2017 is here!

And we are on our way to living 2017 to the fullest. Having gone to bed at 0230 today, I’m surprised I’m not more tired. But I’m using this to my advantage.

This New Year’s Eve was the same as it’s always been, and that’s a good thing, so it got me thinking back on all the other New Year’s Eves because, I have to admit, this holiday is my favorite.

And as I was thinking about all the other New Year’s Eves, I realized my favorite tradition during this celebration.

For as long as I could remember, my grandfather hosted a New Year’s Eve party at his home. This party would begin in the evening and last until past midnight. The night would be filled with good food, fun games, and lots of laughter and fun. I enjoyed all traditions honored throughout the evening, but my favorite tradition was the midnight fireworks. It is in this moment family and friends would stand in the dark, eyes on the long strands of fireworks, and ring in the new year.

Firecrackers on New Year’s Eve is a big deal for my family, for my whole state actually. I speculate it has to do with the Chinese tradition of chasing away the bad and ushering in the good with fireworks, but that is just a guess. “Firecracker breaks” dotted the evening, which consists of my cousins and me taking a break from playing games to light a few fireworks before joining in another game. We would hold mini-competitions to see who could hang on to the firecracker the longest or who had the best fireworks. The main prize was bragging rights.

As midnight drew closer, my uncles would gather around a table to string together a whole bunch of long strands of fireworks. They would often take a strand that was around 10’, tie it together with a whole bunch of other 10’ strands to create a long firecracker belt that could last up to five minutes. When lighted at midnight, these firecrackers would snake their way to the end of the strand, usually hung on a tall pole, and end with a huge firecracker ball at the end that would cause a quick succession of bursts to end the long strand with a final bang.

In the moments before midnight, we would hand out chilled sparkling cider to drink at midnight as a cheer to the new year. Someone would turn off the lights while another member would light the strand as soon as the clock read 12:00 and we would watch in silence as the firecrackers popped their way to the end. It is this moment, between the old year and the new year that makes this tradition my favorite. It always feels like time freezes and as I watch the fireworks pop, my thoughts always turned to the past year and speculate about the next 365 days, simultaneously.

This moment is never overlooked.

When the firecrackers popped their last burst, everything goes silent in the seconds after until time unfreeze and we start hugging family and friends wishing each other a happy new year. The moment is brilliant. I stepped over the threshold into the new year and there is no turning back. I may not do all the things I thought to do in that frozen moment, but that does not matter because those first few minutes into the new year I am happy, at peace, and ready to conquer anything.

Every year.

So, welcome 2017! Let this be a year full of laughter, adventure, and joy!

#JustSayin