A 25-year-old tradition died last night.
My life-long love for pyrotechnics was born on the New Year's Eves of the
early & mid 1980s. My grandfather's annual fireworks displays on December
31 were the center of his small Mississippi Delta town until his death in
1987. I remember the electricity in the air as midnight on New Year's Eve
approached. After the display, the house would fill with people -- drinking
and merrymaking -- celebrating the new year. It was a desire to duplicate
those things that lead to my growing July 4th show at home. It was to honor
those feelings that for every year of my life, I've spent New Year's Eve
with my family instead of at a party or with friends.
Last night, I had to work. The streak of 25 New Year's Eves ended.
As a rookie, I'd always expected to get the short end of the stick. However,
I managed to have Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Christmas all off. And
shortly after I was hired in June, I managed to get off early on July 4th
so I could drive home and shoot fireworks. With that many lucky breaks, how
could I possibly bitch about working on New Year's Eve?
But the logic of it all wasn't strong enough... And the thought of being
away from home really bothered me yesterday more than I thought it ever would.
The underlining frustration of being at work combined with some petty problems
at the station combined to turn me into an extremely pissed off guy for several
hours yesterday. It was ugly.
Somewhere around 7 p.m., I gained some clarity and my demeanor improved greatly.
It hit me that I was being petty and that being in the middle of Lakeland
on New Year's Eve wasn't the worst thing in the world. I ended up spending
midnight watching a tape-delayed version of the ball dropping in Times Square,
sipping some sparkling grape juice and shooting a few fireworks in the parking
lot. At least one tradition continued.
Although my temporary bout of anger and frustration yesterday probably put
a strain on a relationship with one of my co-workers, the day ended much
better than it began. And with its ending, I not only felt better... but
I found a brand new year and a new start waiting for me.
Looking back, 2002 will go down in the annals as one
of my best... or, at least, one that brought about some big changes. I earned
my bachelor's degree and left Oakdale -- my pseudo home for four years. I
was blessed to land three job offers in June and had the chance to pick the
best of the three. I moved off to a new city and a new job. I've spent the
last six months making new friends and seeing & doing so many new
Once upon a time, I'd be sad to see 2002 go. I wouldn't want to leave a year
that brought so many new and exciting things my way. Yet, the "new" me seems
pretty anxious to see what 2003 has in store... And maybe it's asking too
much, but I hope and pray that life has only started to get good.
1. Take better care of my body.
2. Trim up and look good in a tux at Zoe's wedding.
3. Successfully wrap up my probationary year at work.
4. Heavily pad my saving account for rainy days.
5. Be a better friend to some folks.
Of course, I've probably jinxed 'em all by listing them here.