The new millennium arrived when my kids were seven. We checked out movies from the library and got snacks, and worked hard to stay awake, watching movies late enough to usher in the next century. When it was nearly midnight, we roused those of us who had dazed or dosed in front of the television screen and we bundled up in our coats and slipped on our boots over our pajamas to go outside.
We lived on a street where most of the neighbors were acquainted. On summer days, we literally talked over fences, sharing stories and lives with each other. On days like when the flash flood took out of the neighborhood bridge or when Roger’s wife across the street died and the ambulance came, we all gathered up and found out what was going on and what we should do about it. The renters or secluded people that we didn’t get to know I named so we’d know who we were talking about when updating each other on interesting activities we’d witnessed while working in the yard or watching between the blinds. Each year, we knew Christmastime had arrived because old Ralph—even long after he should have stopped going up ladders—put up the plywood Santa and reindeer on his roof. And Jim and Lynda on our right made us cookies, and Mimi and John on our left gave the kids giant candy canes, and Gloria, three houses up, or Jenny, across the street and up one, had the kids over. We were a tightly knit community.
On that night in 1999, our pajama-and-coat-clad family wandered to the corner of our street so we could see Pikes Peak clearly enough to watch the fireworks blown off the summit of the 14,114 foot peak. It’s neat to have such a high, unobstructed launch pad. The streets were amazingly busy with people moving along in the yellow glow from all the porch lights still on. It was a night one wouldn’t want to sleep through. We didn’t know if all the banks would freeze up or our own computers would go blank with the Y2K worries. Plus it would be the first time for all of us there to see a new century. Except Ralph maybe. He was the oldest person on the block. But he probably was staying inside sound asleep in his warm bed. Or maybe he was sitting on his roof with the plywood Santa for a better view.
We greeted people as we passed each other on the way to the main street. We exchanged comments to neighbors on the opposite corner as we six hunched closely for warmth under the streetlight waiting for the show to start. Fortunately, the night was clear enough to see the fireworks. They exploded over the top of the otherwise dark, invisible mountain, lighting the sky with color and sparkles. Much more elaborate and spectacular than any ball dropping. When the show finished and 2000 was properly welcomed in, we all said goodnight to the others out with us and went back inside to our own warm houses and beds.
Most New Year’s, I’m asleep by ten. We’re not the big partying types. We’re more those “early to rise…” folks, whether I like it or not. It’s just the way our inner clocks go. So tonight, it will probably once again be a pretty early night. Though, we do have a couple of movies from the library. And we have plenty of popcorn. And it’s not every night there’s a spectacular display of fireworks for us all, free of charge. And the summit is visible from our window. Maybe tonight I ought to change it up a bit. Maybe tonight I should party like it’s 1999. (Whatever you do, Happy New Year!)
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