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Here’s to a Happy New Year, no matter how you ring it in

By Chris Schroder

My brother Jack and Karen started a New Year’s Eve tradition a few years ago amongst their retired friends at Big Canoe in the north Georgia mountains that is unusual.

It’s perhaps the only New Year’s Eve party in America for which people call up the hosts all afternoon and ask, “What time does the ball drop?”

You see, Jack starts playing a videotape of the previous year’s Times Square ceremonies about 9:30pm so everyone can go home early and be in bed before anyone notices the “new” year looks a lot like the previous one.

When I was a kid, I hated New Year’s Eve. My parents would always go out to a fun party and I’d be stuck at home with a baby sitter, watching the ball in Times Square drop on our black-and-white television. Staying up until midnight with Dick Clark to the sounds of Guy Lombardo seemed interminable when I was a teenager. I vowed to myself when I grew up, I’d always have something planned for the Big Night.

As we turned 16 and could drive a car, my friends and I would spend weeks planning for the Big Night – and we usually bought tickets to a great concert at The Fox Theatre or attended a party at the house of whoever dared to victimize their home for that night.

One year in high school, I made a resolution to quit smoking cigarettes and inhaled my last puff at 11:59 on New Year’s Eve. Smoking was a bad habit I picked up in boarding school outside Washington, D.C. – you try locking down a few dozen teen-aged boys in a dormitory night after night with no parents and some absentee Jesuit priests and see if a few bad habits don’t spread quickly.

Luckily, when I came back to Atlanta to finish high school, I breathed easier in the new year.

For a few years, our fallback was to pick a restaurant in mid-December and reserve a good table early – anything to ensure we weren’t caught with no place to go.

Then some of my closest buddies started hosting a quiet dinner party at home on New Year’s Eve and that spawned a new tradition suggested by my buddy Charles Driebe, who suggested we go around the table after dessert and each name one highlight from the calendar year just ending. No one could pass. That has turned into one of the smartest ways to catch up on the lives of friends with whom you didn’t spend enough time in the previous 12 months.

My all-time best New Year’s Day was seven years ago when my family and close friends gathered to witness my marriage to the most charming woman I’ve ever known. It was a beautiful sunny day in Atlanta that reached 70 degrees on the thermometer.

Everything was going well until I realized it was 20 minutes before the ceremony and the minister hadn’t yet arrived. Luckily, he showed up a few minutes later and I was even more fortunate when Jan said, “I do” and we all celebrated the best way ever to ring in a New Year.

Our team here at SaportaReport is most excited about the upcoming New Year. We are starting a couple of new columns, introducing a new branding campaign and hosting several new Thought Leadership websites on subjects you’ll enjoy. Here’s to a safe and memorable New Year’s Eve holiday weekend for you and your friends.

Come visit us often in 2012. We plan on making it a memorable one.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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