Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What are you doing to celebrate Canada Day?

Canada Day is fast approaching. July 1 in case you forgot! Have you made any plans yet? A picnic and fireworks? Family gathering? Bar-b-que with friends? A neighbourhood street festival or a concert?

Well those could be fun, but then again why not try something new and a little bit unique like a New Year's Eve Party. Yes you read that right - I said New Year's Eve Party!! No, I have not lost my mind or my calendar. This was a tradition that my parents and a number of other couples started back in 1974. Allow me to explain.

Living on the prairies means having cold winters. Cold winters means extra clothing and warming up the car before you go anywhere. It's hard to dress appropriately for a New Years Eve party or any other winter party when you have layers of clothing to keep warm on the journey to and from. Every year, my parents and their friends would gather at someones home (usually ours) for a house party or for drinks then head off to a local dance to ring in the new year.

Well, the party to ring in 1974 was at our home and started like may other parties. Good friends, food, drinks, music and humour. At some point after midnight the conversation turned to the weather and how silly it was to have New Year's Eve parties when it was so cold as no one wanted to go out and warm up the cars to go home. Someone said: "Why can't we celebrate it in summer and have a bar-b-que?" Another person said; "Hey, why not have it on Canada Day!" Everyone thought this was a great plan, so mom grabbed paper and a pen and wrote a proclamation that from that time on, all New Year's Eve parties were to be held on July 1. All twenty people in attendance signed the paper that night and again at the First Annual New Year's Eve/Canada Day Party on July 1, 1974!

As we had a large yard, patio and a covered area on the other side of the garage for picnics, the parties were usually at our place. Mom would make buns and a large cole slaw. Each couple brought their lawn chairs, meat to bar-b-que, a side dish or dessert and beverage of choice. Dad set up a bar on top of the freezer in the garage and covered the counter-top with plastic to use as a buffet table. If the weather really wasn't co-operating we moved the two big picnic tables into the garage. We usually borrowed an additional bar-b-que to accommodated all the steaks, ribs and whatever else was cooked.

The guests would start arriving by 3:00 or so. In the early years they played softball or Frisbee, but this later switched to horse shoes, lawn darts and croquette as they aged. The grills weren't usually started until at least six and it was sometimes 8:00 before they got eating. Short of using the bathroom or needing something in the kitchen, the house was off limits as this was a summer party! The evenings could get quite cool sometimes, so they usually ended up moving the party into the garage at some point. A few years they were all wearing jackets and had a heater on in the garage. After supper the entertainment was usually charades or card games with old time music playing in the background.

A little before midnight, all glasses would be filled, toasts would be made and at the stroke of midnight they would kiss and sing "Auld Lang Syne" at the top of their voices!

These "New Year's Eve" parties were a LOT of fun. The parties were held either June 30 or July 1 and there was usually 12 to 20 people in attendance. As years passed, spouses died, illnesses or other obligations changed the guest list, but widows and widowers were always included and other couples joined in the fun.

This tradition continued for about 25 years. They didn't really want to quit, but numbers were dwindling and they just couldn't party that late anymore. It was a lot of fun while it lasted and there are many great memories of those parties and the cast of characters that attended.

So if you haven't made plans yet, why not try something new and invite your friends to a "New Year's Eve/Canada Day Party?

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?
And here's a hand, my trusty friend And gie's a hand o' thine
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne

Have a Happy New Year/Canada Day!!


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