Friday, January 3, 2020

New Year's Eve in the suburbs


Okay, we don't really live in the suburbs, just a residential area, kind of on the outskirts of town. We've got lots of stores and banks and public transportation. But, that's about it.

Meanwhile, we were sick on Christmas...then New Year's Eve rolled around, and we were STILL sick and STILL didn't want to pass it on to the grandparents. And hadn't gotten to the store to buy groceries, let alone presents.

Some good friends of ours (Russian) just emigrated to Canada. Like, in November-just over a month ago. I've been keeping up with their teenage daughter on social media, and she wrote this heartbreaking post about not being able to find the holiday spirit. Now...this was after Christmas. So, most people had done their celebrating already, in North America. But when I read that, I realized that she was sitting there, still waiting for the holiday like we Americans wait for Christmas. In Russia, that holiday is New Year's Eve. And if you've ever been in Russia for New Year's Eve, you know that American New Year's celebrations are pretty lame low-key. AND these friends are out there in rural Canada, where everyone is likely hibernating until school starts up again (probably this week, whereas Russian schools are off until January 9th). And she's still waiting for the holiday magic.

I know I wrote a post recently comparing Thanksgiving to Russian New Year's, because it has that overall non-religious/political open table warm fuzzy feeling. But, the holiday magic, and the tree, and decorations, and gift exchange-those, of course, belong to American Christmas/Russian New Year's.

By the way, I'm looking out the window right now late at night, and the Lakhta Tower (you can read about it) is lit up like a Christmas New Year's tree: Green with little glowing yellow lights.

One of our local shopping malls has a big open foyer where there is usually a fun holiday display. A few days before Christmas, I dragged the kids there, even though we were all sick, to see the holiday decorations. Silly me, it was almost Christmas but still more than a week until New Year's, so the holiday decorations were under construction. We got our gingerbread ingredients and I pretty much died carrying it all home.

A week later, stir-crazy again, we canceled New Year's guests, since we were still sniffling a bit. But we were also out of food. So as everyone else sat in their buildings wrapping presents and entertaining guests and cooking all the New Year's Eve dishes, we made our way to the shopping mall. Yep, I made us go. Andrei wasn't feeling great. But we really needed some fresh air...on the walk there, I mean. I forget what happened while getting ready, but there were tears. So finally we made it out the door...

We got some fast food for a late lunch and then took turns doing secret errands while the kids played in the play area. We were sitting at the table and I remembered my friends over in Canada missing Russian New Year's Eve. The shopping center, by the way, had not come through for us...no interesting decorations. So we didn't find that holiday spirit close to home, either. It was kind of peaceful though to be the last ones shopping. All the crowds were gone and no one was in a rush. Several families keeping kids entertained, maybe while others cooked at home.

Suddenly I thought: What if my husband is missing his childhood New Year's Eve, and here we are eating burgers? What if he is feeling terribly depressed at my failure to make all the typical dishes and shower everyone with presents? Even the children in the play area, though clearly not ethnically Russian, were dressed in their best party clothes. I hadn't even thought to dress up! I blurted out an apology for being so neglectful of the holiday. But my husband confirmed that he doesn't care much for New Year's Eve...I knew that, of course. And my son said "New Year's Eve is when you get to be yourself!"

The fireworks were slightly quieter this year. They didn't really start up until 1 a.m., and then were sporadic for several more hours. The kids didn't even care! They only watched for a little bit, and then noticed that Father Frost had left some presents under the tree, and played with their new toys. They were up with us until about 2 a.m.

So it was pretty low-key. After 15 years in Russia, I still don't really care about New Year's Eve! I have to kind of make myself do it, with no childhood nostalgia to drive me. However, watching the kids' excitement is the highlight. And of course, we were quite sad not to all be together. We look forward to Andrei's parents coming over and having a delayed Christmas/ New Year party.


3 comments:

  1. It's always interesting to consider different cultures' holiday traditions and different meanings and importances of holidays. Christmas and New Year's Eve are not all that special for most in Malaysia, but Chinese New Year, quickly approaching, will be a huge deal. We're planning to hunker down at home, avoid main roads, and plan on dealing with toddler and baby not getting the best sleep due to 15 nights of all-night fireworks. ha! We usually visit a few friends for their family gatherings but because this is the big holiday and travel time, driving anywhere at all will be a bit of a nightmare...that's why it's a good time to stay at home and relax for us!

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    1. Oh, yep! Sounds like here, except people use public transportation a lot. I would avoid the roads just because of drunk drivers. Well, your toddler might be a little disturbed by the noise, but the baby might not be old enough to care.

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  2. One year a Russian woman threw a Russian New Year's Party for all of the families with Russian children....and then the next couple of years the Russian Church had a Yolka party. Those celebrations were really the most fun I've ever had - or right up there - so I miss Russian New Years' and I have only had the chance to enjoy a few.

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