I have now decided that, should I ever be required to drive in rush hour traffic, or in the sort of nasty rain and wind we've been dealing with in this area again, I must always remember to bring my new Haley Westenra CD. Months ago I heard a review of her latest album – Pure – on NPR and liked the snippets they played so much I put it on my wish list. Richard saw it listed there, so it showed up under the tree for me, and today we popped it into the CD player in the car as we headed up to Napa for our New Year's Eve gathering. She has an amazing voice and an incredible range and she makes hitting those nearly impossible high notes seem effortless, and most of all, her music is the sort that just flows over you so that you cannot help but just relax and think happy thoughts. It's perfect for stressful driving. We listened to it all the way up last night, and all the way back today, and I think it will definitely have to live in my car now. Richard is already making plans to rip it all to MP3 and add it to his iPod clone, since he liked it just as much as I did.
We were headed up to Napa to do a family sort of New Year's Eve, for the first time in quite a while. Since my family never drinks, we made it our tradition decades ago that instead of gorging on alcohol and getting drunk, we would instead gorge on leftover Christmas cookies and all of our favorite flavors of ice cream as we watched the stupid ball drop in Times Square on TV. As my mom puts it, by stuffing our faces with all these calories until we feel uncomfortably full, it gives just enough added incentive for us to get back into exercising and healthy eating in the new year.
Since I got off work early we somehow managed to avoid any traffic at all on the way up to Napa. My nephews positively exploded with glee when we walked in the door at my sister's house and Richard and I were dragged off in a million different directions to see everything that Santa had brought. The K'nex ferris wheel we got for the oldest nephew had made quite a hit, and he also showed me he was already picking out tunes on the ukulele he got from his paternal grandmother. The youngest nephew babbled mostly incoherently at me about all manner of things, but mainly we had to be shown the inflatable spears with which they could bap each other over the head and without danger of injury, and the racecar track where the cars leapt through a ring of 'fire' and, if you turned the speed up high enough, would sometimes leave the track entirely and crash in random heaps somewhere else in the room.
My parents arrived a little later bearing all of their leftover cookies and containers of ice cream. We all gathered around the table and made homemade pretzels (well, the adults did – the kids mainly watched and did their best to mangle the dough they were given). Richard opened more of his birthday presents and we ate dinner while watching The Court Jester, which is still one of my favorite Danny Kaye movies of all time. Richard and my dad and Bil-1 and I all hunched over the little joystick controller and did our best to beat each other's high scores on PacMan and DigDug and some other game that was deceptively difficult, which none of us remember seeing when we were younger but which my nephew was getting the hang of a lot quicker than we adults.
Later the kids went to have their baths and went to bed, and then it was time for How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (which I had never seen, and which had me laughing hysterically throughout most of it. Also I suspect that there are more than a few couples who watch this movie and then, at some point in their future, gift each other with a 'love fern', just for the humor potential). We all brought out the ice cream we'd brought with us and sat in front of the TV with birthday cake and containers of ice cream which we ate with spoons right out of the carton until we were almost too full to move.
By the time the movie ended it was only a few minutes until midnight, so my sister went to fetch my oldest nephew, since he'd wanted to see it, and we watched some strange news personality walk around New York with a head on a stick, trying to get a date to kiss at midnight, and we listened to another announcer say that the ball dropping over Times Square was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and I wondered what exactly he was smoking and why he wasn't sharing with the rest of us. And then the stupid ball dropped and we all cheered Happy New Year rather weakly because of all the ice cream and cookies, and also because we were all very sleepy and most of us not used to staying up so late any more. Just like that, it was 2005 and just like every year at this time, it was absolutely no different than it had been minutes before.
This morning my older sister made a marvelous coffee cake with streusel and frosting and we drank copious amounts of coffee to try to recover from being up so late the night before. Then Richard and I hugged our goodbyes and loaded in our Hayley Westenra CD into the car again, and set off for home. We may or may not have made a few stops along the way to search for the game controller that has PacMan and DigDug and all the other cool games that I may or may not desperately need now, but alas, we could find it nowhere. So instead we came home and collapsed on the sofa to watch Jabberwock, which earned its reputation for being the most forgettable of Terry Gilliam's films quite well (yawn), and I was immediately overwhelmed with five cats (the sixth was probably still lurking in the linen closet and did not come out until much later). We had leftover birthday cake and leftover New Year's Eve ice cream for lunch and I did some knitting and started a list in my head of all the things I want to get done on Monday because I have the day off from work, and it has been really quite a lovely way to start a brand new year.
This has been a Holidailies entry.