High-Balling* to the New Year

We were to be discussing memorable New Year’s Eves, ones that stick out in our memories.

You don’t want to hear about those.

I had a few full of tears, but worse, a few full of hopes, a few full of anticipation that really let me down.

Even I don’t want to go into those.

However, even some of the flops are fairly amusing.

We spent one New Year’s Eve with another family whose kids were our kids’ ages. We were friendly with the parents, but it was a real struggle to stay awake when the husband insisted on showing the most boring movies, poor-quality rehashings of Biblical epics…not “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, nor John Huston’s “The Bible”; those I can readily re-watch. The kids absconded to the bedrooms to play. The next year, I insisted hosting at our house.

It didn’t help much.

I had games for the kids, a few to offer the parents and topics ready to discuss. We put on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year, I made quite a number of tasty offerings…and still had trouble keeping my eyes open with the company. The mother had little on her mind; the father had a scattered mix of political/religious views of which he was vehement; there was no way to lighten the conversation.

That was the last time; I like to be conscious when the New Year come in, or at least, not gritting my teeth when I am awake.

My mother started letting me see the ball drop on Times Square when I was pretty small. I think she hoped I’d fall asleep before, but with my sister and brother carrying on about how exciting it was, how could I resist? I had to go to bed as soon as that ball hit the bottom the first few years. During the evening, we had food, mostly snacks, but also a relish dish with crudité. I developed a taste for celery and olives at a very young age. No matter what was going on in our lives, we had special food and watched the music and the ball drop. Sometimes we watched The Tonight Show, when it was still live from New York. Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon would be in tuxedos, and they would pause the show to cut over to show the ball dropping. But more often, it was Guy Lombardo or Dick Clark ringing in the New Year with us.

I was a teenager when my nieces came along and with them, it all continued, and even got bumped-up a few notches. I made punch, (non-spiked, of course), and they had those popper-streamers and noisemakers. Somewhere there is a picture of my father covered in the streamers and confetti; only those girls could have gotten away with that!

One that sticks out that happened a few years before. My sister was still single. She and her friend Barbara, whom she had known for many years, were now young adults. Barb had recently had a falling out with her boyfriend and I guess this was one time when my very popular sister was between fellas, because after being out for a short time, they came for the evening to ring in the New Year at our house.

With them being “grown-up”,for the first time, my mother had made “Highball” cocktails at my sister’s request. I am not sure which version of them Mom made, but Barb was completely unused to drinking. To make it worse, my mother had baked a cake and topped it with 7-Minute icing, the fluffy, sticky kind, and innocent Barb, while my mother was in the kitchen and my sister was not paying attention, washed the cake down quickly with her own, then my sister’s, Highball.

We knew something was up only when the rock station on the radio played the Rolling Stones’ new song. I had not heard it before, and was shocked to hear “Let’s Spend the Night Together”. I said, “WHAT?!”, and Barbara answered, “Oh, YES! We heard that whirlier.

“What?”, I asked again, just as shocked. Barb answered, “I said, we heard that WH-EARLIER”, [earlier]. I looked at my sister, she looked at Barb. My sister asked Barb how much she had to drink… and how fast. We called Mom, who was horrified to find that Barb wasn’t sipping one drink throughout the evening and plied her with water and coffee, which didn’t help. My sister and I walked her, one under each arm, to our shared bedroom. We put her into the new nightie set I had given my sister for Christmas, which had still in its giftbox under the Christmas tree. Ordinarily, I would have stayed in the room, listening to them talk of boyfriends, etc., but I decided to spend the night on the couch, which was a good call.

Let’s just say that with the turn of events, I never saw Barb drink again, nor did I ever see my mother serve drinks on New Years Eve ever again.

This year, as usual, I’ll make finger foods and whoever is around is welcome. It will probably be a quiet night, with just my husband and me. If that is the case, we’ll probably watch a movie or two. I am not sure what the plans are for anyone else. We’ll put on music and also play the rest of the evening ‘by ear’.

I hope everyone has a good New Year, a Happy and Blessed 2017.

*[“High Balling” :railroad term for either the signal meaning, “clear track ahead” or from the steam gauges that meant the fullest pressure, and fastest speed, possible. Large alcoholic drinks that were served in tall glasses on trains in club cars were nicknamed, “Highballs.”]


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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6 Responses to High-Balling* to the New Year

  1. jeff7salter says:

    interesting to know the origins of the term “high ball”. I never would’ve imagined it went back to the train era.
    Too bad about Barb downing those drinks so fast. I had my own experience, as a mid-teen, with that tricky relationship between alcohol and time… and usually the drinker loses that contest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since the drink was a mix of soda and some spirits, she probably have n idea of the potency, and couldn’t taste it over the sweet icing. She was such a sweet and innocent kid, she would never have done this on purpose.In fact, my sister had to really talk her into trying it. She must have been 18 or 19, and a very reserved young lady.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        yeah, I’ve tasted a few drinks where I couldn’t readily discern the presence of alcohol. Could’ve been unfortunate if I’d not known better.


  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Goodness! No wonder you prefer quiet holidays. Seems that your memories of New Year’s are mostly negative. Hope you have a calm, uneventful evening!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Poor Barb.

    Those new years with your acquaintances sound very agitating. I am not sure I would have attempted a second go at it like you had.

    I hope you had a nice New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year.


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