It's surprisingly easy to start a tradition. You do something one year. Everyone says do it again and so you do and before you know it, voila!, you're on your way. And though New Year's is supposed to be celebrating, uh, the new, it seems this holiday rivals Thanksgiving for traditions, from who holds the parties to what's served. (Shrimp cocktail and hot artichoke dip, definitely. Recipe to follow.)
Growing up in Pennsylvania, the New Year's Eve tradition in my house required my parents to traipse up to the Lubrecht's for a very adult (drunken) neighborhood New Year's Eve party. The next morning, I'd awaken to find my parents uncharacteristically still asleep and odd items by the phone. Edible panties stand out. Why, my ten-year-old brain wondered, would someone want to eat their underwear?
Later, when I was young and single, I'd celebrate New Year's Eve in Philadelphia with my lifelong best friend, Lisa, who had the grooviest apartment in Rittenhouse Square. Once I went to New York, assiduously avoided Times Square, and could not get into my brother's apartment on Tenth Street because his brother in law was having a coke-laden party there. This meant my friends and I were forced to freeze on the streets between $6 cups of coffee until dawn. New Year's Day in New York is a religious experience. Empty. Wasted. Cold. Bare.
Personally, I believe New Year's Eve is a night to stay inside, off the roads and surrounded by the warmth of family or, in our case, the mayhem of kids. The new tradition in our house is to hold two parties - one for Anna's teenage girlfriends and one for Sam's ten-year-old buddies. The ratio usually runs 2 adults: 12 kids. Frightening.
This year, Anna's throwing a dinner party with black olive pasta, lahsis and, for dessert, coconut and dark chocolate tartlets. Sam's friends will eat the leftovers. Or throw the leftovers. Or, worse, steal the desserts. They have swords and all sorts of weapons. I have Valium.
Yesterday, while shopping for some New Year's related items, I passed by a nail salon where women were lined up, getting ready for the Big Night. I felt a tiny twinge of jealousy. Those New Year's Eve bashes at hotel parties in Philadelphia and New York were so long ago that I've almost forgotten the heady experience. Though I can still remember clicking down the city sidewalk in heels way too high and dresses way too flimsy for a frigid winter night, lipstick red, hair sprayed and sparkled, giggling uncontrollably out of nervousness and anticipation.
Then I went back to the task at hand - picking up the ingredients for artichoke dip. And earplugs.
Happy New Year's!
Artichoke Dip Recipe
1 can of artichoke hearts
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut artichoke hearts into quarters. Mix Parmesan cheese and mayo together. Add artichoke hearts. Pour mixture into small baking dish. Bake until hot and bubbly.
Serve with crackers