Growing up in the staunch religious background I came from there was always a bit of unspoken but clearly recognizable fear inside me on New Year's Eve.  It was connected to the fact that I was taught Jesus would return in the clouds one day.  I figured since New Year's Eve was the end of something and the start of something new, it would be Jesus' preferenced day for His return.  Mind you, I didn't fully know how God worked as a kid.  I still don't always know but don't fear that lack of knowledge or believe God is to be totally figured out.  If He could be, why would He be God.

My only scope of vision and understanding about everything, including New Year's Eve and Jesus' return, I had comprised from roughly 7-10 years of living life. My young age, perceptions that were not realities but the overworking of a kid mind and my religious upbringing swirled together to create this silent fear I held every New Year's Eve.  I never shared it out loud, but just endured the passage of midnight to 12:01 a.m. with baited breath.  My bit of irrational fear made every New Year's Eve a bit like choking down a plate of liver and onions, or facing an Arctic blast when running west in the winter.  When Dick Clark counted back from 10, I held my breath.  Every year when the ball dropped and the seconds changed years, I sighed a sigh of relief inside.

It wasn't that I didn't want Jesus to come back or go to heaven.  It's just that I was a kid who  hadn't gotten to live all the things that loomed out there in the future.  I still wanted to get done riding the bus, get to keep a necklace from a boy, go to high school, drive a car.  I wanted to experience everything.  I especially wanted to someday get to be an adult because, from my kid vantage point, it seemed like freedom:

Many a New Year's Eve was spent overnight at the lake my grandparents lived on.  My grandmother knew nothing of that bit of fear that wanted to take up residence in me every New Year's Eve.  She did know that me and my sisters loved eating pimento spread sandwiches with the crusts cut off and ice cream cones on a sheet in front of the TV.  Ice cold Pepsi out of the glass bottle and all the Cheese Nips you could ever dream of were a New Year's Eve must have.  If Jesus did chose to come back, at least I had a great last meal!

Evidently my parents were off to their own New Year's Eve party, or were just relishing a quiet night without three kids in the house. They were never present at our overnight party stay at grams and gramps.  My grandfather always fell asleep in the corner in his black leather recliner with snores that rivaled the Times Square crowd that blared across the TV.  Gram spent her night waiting on three girls' every food whim.  She usually at some point said, "You girls stay up as late as you want.  Just turn the TV off when you go to bed."  What a cool grandma! 

I'm not sure when I finally realized that ridiculous fear I held was just that, ridiculous.  But it left me as the years faded to adulthood.

Last night 13 members of my family came over to usher in the New Year with us.   Two of my college aged nieces and my daughter and son-in-law made up part of the mix.  Doug passed out champagne glasses filled with non-alcoholic sparkling cherry spumante to the non-drinking contingency and champagne to the remaining four of us.  We screamed and clinked glasses loudly when the ball dropped.  I had not one ounce of fear.

New Year's Eve is a collision of saying goodbye to things we knew and experienced in the past year and looking forward to things that our hearts desire in the coming year.  Leaving and entering occurs in just a few seconds.  I rather like what that signifies.

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