A new year is upon us. Years seem to turn over much faster now than when I was a child. How I spend my New Year’s Eve directly reflects my stage in life, as I suspect it does for most people.
When I was a young adult, it was all about the big party, dressing up and celebrating with a large, sometimes raucous, crowd. As a young mother, my New Years’ Eves were spent in the company of couple-friends, eating and playing the latest parlor-game sensation. The TV was on in the background, just to make sure we didn’t miss the stroke of midnight. When that magic moment arrived, we quickly passed hugs and “Happy New Year” greetings, and then it was back to the game. As my children entered high school, New Year’s suddenly became about them—what they were doing, who they were with, and their safety—while I watched celebratory events around the world on TV and waited for them to return home.
For the past 15 years or so, New Year’s Eve usually concludes, for me, somewhere around 10 p.m. My mother used to say, “Whatever you do on January 1st, you will do all year long!” I use that as an excuse to beg off attending any late parties on New Year’s Eve, because I need to be well and rested on January 1, so I can enjoy the same throughout the year (wink).
An exception was December 31 of 2005. I was in Moscow and it was cold, with lots of snow on the ground. Two medical-unit colleagues and I decided we would walk down to Red Square to people-watch. The Kremlin was holding a huge outdoor party in the Square but it was by invitation only, and we were not invited. We arrived at the Okhotny Ryad shopping center, which is a large underground mall just outside the entrance gates to Red Square. The street crowd was massive—many thousands, just milling around, drinking and singing. At the ground-level entrance to the mall, a park and recreation area, soldiers stood in a semi-circle, shoulder to shoulder. One of us decided we should try to get in, so we made our way to the front and flashed our diplomatic badges. Voilà! The guard let us pass.
We were feeling pretty cocky until we realized that, behind the barrier of guards, was another barrier in front of the gate to Red Square. We boldly marched forward and got in the line, but when we made it to the front, our diplomatic badges didn’t pass muster and we were denied access. Darn!
We found a vantage point to watch the activity but, as we were still outside the walls of Red Square, we had no inkling of what was happening on the Square. Then we noticed an opening in the wall, off to the side from the main entrance. A few people, walking on a path that led to the opening, disappeared into the Square. There appeared to be no guards at all. Well, you just know we had to give it a try and, once we made our way to that path and through the portal in the wall, there we were inside Red Square on New Year’s Eve!
The rest of the evening was truly magical. President Putin addressed the crowd on a big screen set up to the side of a stage, where entertainers sang and danced. Fireworks burst over Saint Basil’s Cathedral, probably loud enough to disturb poor old Lenin, who was laid out in his glass box across the way. I have no idea how the invited guests were chosen, but the variety of languages spoken was like a mini Tower of Babel. People sang and danced and generally had a great time, my friends and I among them, considering our selves very fortunate to be enjoying the party rather than experiencing the disgrace of having been caught gate-crashing!
Happy New Year!
For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.