New Years’ Eve often ends up being a celebration for the older members of the family. Little ones don’t always make it until the clock strikes midnight- at least not without being exceptionally crabby. But there are some ways that younger family members can be included, and all of the family can have some fun ringing in the New Year on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
If you live in an area that allows fireworks, shoot them off early- right after dark. When our children were younger, we’d go out right after supper and do sparklers or Roman candles. We didn’t wait and save our fireworks celebration for midnight. We did it when the kids were awake and aware enough to really enjoy it.
We have some awesome stories of shivering in the cold as we watched kids and adults hold sparklers and try not to set each other on fire. We often have the youngest kids piled in the tailgate of a car away from the center of excitement but able to watch the fun. (We do keep a water hose on hand, but we’ve never had to put out anyone on fire.)
Special Family Meals
When I was growing up in the South, we always had the tradition of eating collard greens and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. I didn’t even particularly like either of these Southern foods. But legend said that black-eyed peas brought wealth in the way of coins and collard greens in the way of dollar bills. My mom would boil change and put it in the black-eyed peas for us to find when we ate it. The meal was a tradition, and every year I knew we’d end up eating it on New Year’s Day.
When I was a little thing, I didn’t really get the whole boiling the change first. My sister- who is much older than me- was a nurse and had to work on New Year’s Day. I was so sad that she didn’t get any money, and I knew she would heat up leftovers and not get any change because we had found it all. I graciously slipped some coins from my own piggy bank into the beans for her. And I didn’t understand why everyone seemed a little horrified when she found the money.
Extended Family Get-Togethers
From the time our children were pretty young, we’ve had some or all of us spend the night with extended family and celebrate the New Year. We eat dinner together- usually finger foods-,shoot the fireworks, and just have time to hang out. The younger kids might not make it to midnight, staying awake with the grownups, but they have plenty of time to play with cousins before they crash.
This has been a great time for the kids and adults to be together. The kids can play or watch movies, and then camp out in each other’s bedrooms for the night. The older kids can join the adults to stay up until midnight.
Watching the New Year Come
There are plenty of places in other time zones that hit midnight well before we do. We like to watch them celebrate with fireworks and celebrations. Usually there is a television network that is showing various countries as they hit midnight. As kids get older, they are able to make it to watch the networks celebrating our turning to midnight and a brand new year.
It’s been our tradition to watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve show since I was very young. As time edged closer to midnight, we would count down and watch the lighted ball slowly move into place and then light up with the year when we reached midnight. As a child I always called it “watching the bomb drop” each New Year’s Eve. It’s been fun to share that with my kids as they’ve gotten old enough to appreciate the staying up late.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are great times to establish some family traditions that you come back to year after year. These are some traditions the whole family can look forward to.
A big thank you to Leah Courtney of As We Walk Along the Road for writing this guest article.