Alice Collins: New year, new decade break tradition
Our New Year's Eve was different this year for the first time in many years. As usual we operated rather low key compared to some gatherings on the last night of the year. The difference is we were not joined by our next door neighbors and dear old friends. Well they aren't quite as old as we are, but they have been friends for a long time. Out-of-town visitors and missed communication disrupted our long standing arrangements.
When we moved to Bemidji in 1965 and my husband began his long years on the Bemidji State University math faculty, he and Ray had offices close together in Sattgast Hall. Ray and his wife became our earliest close friends in Bemidji, and not long after that, we began to spend New Year's Eve together.
Both couples lived in Bemidji for the first five years we were here, and then we moved to a house on Grant Lake near Wilton. Before long, our friends bought the lot next to us and built the lovely home there where their school-age kids finished growing up, as did ours, and now it is just the adults left living here. Through the years, we have had many get-togethers, but the tradition that never changed was the New Year's Eve time together.
We tend to have a rather quiet celebration, and, ironically, the two women enjoy wine while the guys prefer a bubbly pop, for various reasons including the fact that my husband takes meds that call for no alcohol to be included.
Our gathering also has the advantage that there is no need to drive anywhere, and so, having had wine is no problem, and there is no concern about having to share the road with drivers who have had too much to drink.
Some years have involved bitter cold weather or snow and wind. Others have been clear with lovely moonshine illuminating the lake. The full moon Dec. 31 gave us just that again.
As we have reached our mid 80s and avoided driving at night, some people have suggested we should move into town. We may have to do that some day, but as long as one of us can drive and our good neighbor plows our driveway, we are happy to stay where we can look out on birch trees and a lake that goes from shiny blue water in summer to bright white ice and snow in winter.
As I wrote this on the 31st, the sun was brightly shining. I look out the many windows of my combination dining room and work room. It was a carport when we moved here but after a few years we saw the potential pleasure that it could provide as a year-round sun room.
So on New Year's Eve when the full moon was shining, we welcomed the beginning of the new decade, and, assuming our aging bodies keep moving and our minds stay active, we will get together with our neighbors in 2010.