December 31, 1979. Saint John, New Brunswick
On the eve of the 1980’s, I make a request of my mother to bake a special commemorative pizza with the year spelled out using my favourite topping: sliced hot dogs. The Kraft pizza box is brought down from the shelf and we go to work. When it’s apparent that there aren’t enough hot dogs to make a zero at the end of 1980, a modified 9 is created in a tribute to the year that passed.
I sat down in front of the television (I forget what was on, probably CBC) to eat my pizza while my mother and her friend sat in the kitchen, smoking and drinking wine. At midnight, I jumped up and exclaimed “Happy New Year!” to myself.
December, 1988. Saint John, New Brunswick
At the staff party for the restaurant where I washed dishes, the owner thought he’d look the other way while I’d help my under-aged self to the open bar to enjoy a beer or two.
I ended the evening curled up by the toilet at home and failed a crucial exam at school the next day.
December 31, 1989. Mloump, Senegal.
Shortly before midnight, I join a large group of men as we assemble in a large room, with benches lining the four walls. We take our seats and wait. At midnight, we are to dip into the Bunuk, dance, and usher in the new year.
Unfortunately, the 1990’s is delayed by the late arrival of the Bunuk. When it does arrive, it’s quickly consumed at what becomes a very fast New Year’s Eve party.
The next morning, I awaken to the radio playing a reggae choir version of the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be.’ The station is an English one from nearby Gambia. The announcer exclaims, “‘Let it Be.’ Everything gonna be alright. It’s 1990! A new year! New things!” I am unaware that we would be abruptly leaving the country in a matter of days.
December 31, 1999. Saint John, New Brunswick
The millennium is ushered in a friend’s rented row house on Queen Street in the South End. In the basement, a band plays. On the main floor, people watch Sean Majumder host New Year’s festivities from St. John’s, celebrating the new millennium a half hour early.
December 31, 2000. Winnipeg, Manitoba.
An excruciating 3 three hour dinner at a popular Chinese restaurant is spent with a girl who is just not that into me.
December 31, 2002. Dorion, Quebec.
My first New Year’s is spent with my someday-to-be-fiance’s family. Despite this, we are still together.
December 31, 2005. Langholm, Scotland.
We stood in the town square and watched the pipers march through the town. A chavette grabs me, kisses me hard of the cheek, runs into a pub and screams: “Let’s git, let’s git, let’s git fooking mental!”
My introduction to Hogmanay happens at the local postman’s house. Mass quantities of whiskey are consumed well into the early hours.
Apparently I didn’t learn from the pounding hangover as we are making plans to head back there in a year.