New Year’s Eve, 2014-2015

Over the years I have concluded that the very best way to celebrate New Year’s Eve is quietly, with family and dearest friends. It’s not as if I have not tried the alternative, a night out on the town with food, drink, dancing and lots of noise. But it always seemed to me that, for all the elaborate accouterments, New Year’s Eve never quite lived up to expectations, and always seemed a bit forced. Of course, it may also be a product of my age and the prodigious demands on energy, strength and stamina an entire long evening up to and beyond midnight exacts on New Year’s revelers. Midnight is an hour or so beyond my normal reach these days.

Every year I remember the New Year’s Eve observation of my childhood. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I asked my father one time what exactly was going on when one year ended and another began. He told me that there is an empty space between the old and new year and if you stand outside and watch carefully you can actually see it. You must watch very carefully he solemnly explained because the space between the years is quite small and passes in a second or two. And so for several years when I was first allowed to stay up to see the new year in, I stood out on the front porch in the cold dark watching for the space to come down 21st Avenue. I never saw it but I cannot say for sure that it doesn’t exist.

In the days before television when you couldn’t at least watch the revelry in New York’s Times Square as the big ball descends precisely at midnight, my parents sent my brother and me out onto the porch to create a celebratory clatter by beating pots and pans together when the railroad shop whistle signaled that it was midnight and a new year.

I was fortunate this year to be in Santa Fe with a portion of our big family: daughter, son and their spouses, young adult grandson, granddaughters with partner and boyfriend, and two delightful little girls, California granddaughters 10 and 8. Skiing was the daytime activity while some held down the homestead and worked on the chili, chopping, dicing, sautéing, simmering. After the meal charades provided great howls of laughter and at midnight New York time – a civilized 10:00 pm in New Mexico – my son-in-law popped the corks on bottles of champagne and we all sipped, toasted, and kissed and danced. Sure enough, my son and daughter, remembering the old front porch ritual I taught them when they were children, took their children out into the cold darkness to watch for the space between 2014 and 2015 and made the high desert air ring with the unmistakable clang of pots and pans.

Happy New Year.


  1. Susan Schaefer says:

    This is so lovely, John. I teared up a little at the description of your children and grandchildren recreating your family ritual. It seems very Scottish of your family to wait for the “thin space (place)” between the old and the new years. Happy Hogmanay!

  2. Kristi Peterson says:

    Sigh…I needed this. Wishing you all a most wonderful year in 2015.

  3. Happy New Year to you and Sue. We look forward to seeing you in Mission Beach next month.

    Karen and Larry


  4. Edith Andrew says:

    My sentiments exactly! We played Minute to Win It games here and the young people cruised 5th Ave. S to find items from A to Z to photograph in one hour! Interesting and clever results and it got them out of the house. It all helped midnight arrive more quickly. It was a family thing.

  5. Susan Van Hooser says:

    I agree with you, John. Also, I wanted to tell you about an incident when Dave and I were flying back to Chicago after seeing our children and grandchildren in Boston. I saw a gentleman reading Christian Century and asked him if he knew you. He said he knew of you but lived in Joliet. I saw him again while walking to baggage. His back was very humped and he was struggling to get his coat on. I went to him and asked if I could help. He said, “you are an angel”. I helped him hoist his leather pack up onto his shoulder. I told him we really miss you a lot. He said what a great man you are. To me, these are life’s special moments.

  6. I could just hear the pots and pans clattering! Thank you for sharing. I always look forward to your postings.

  7. Bud and Monet says:


    Just loved your post. I’ve forwarded it to my children for their pleasure. How very creative thinking your father was. Thanks for giving us this peek into your childhood.

    Blessings to you all in 2015.


    Bud, too

  8. Nancy Jo Myers says:

    What a wonderful place and group to share the ringing in of the New Year! I giggle picturing all the years of clanging those pots and pans! Thanks for bringing up those memories as well as my memory of that beautiful New Mexico star filled sky! Happy New Year to you and your family!

    Nancy Jo

  9. Gary P. Beckman says:

    Dr., Rev, Friend, Pastor, #1 Story Teller,

    We miss you so and the years we had together at Fourth Church and all the wonderful ways you in which you shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with us. You are a very wise man and have been influential in my life. I miss your benediction every Sunday but repeat it to myself and many others that I come in contact with.

    Thanks for all the years and blessings to you, Sue and your family.

  10. Barbara says:

    Those are my sentiments exactly about New Years Eve, I could never get excited about the hoopla even when I was younger. I also felt that those people who went to Times Square were a little crazy.
    I guess I am a party pooper.
    Barbara Fountain

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