Here it is – 2016

Yesterday shortly after 11 pm, Husband and I set out for the beach. We walked there – taking the car would have been outright silly and we thought it would be too crowed to sensibly bike there (in the end, I guess biking would have been ok, but walking was still nicer). Even though it was an hour before midnight, we could already see at lot of fireworks. (What happened to the idea of actually greeting the new year with fireworks when it was really there, not hours before? But ok, it did look cool and it gave us something to watch on our way.) On the beach they had erected a huge bonfire over the last few days (actually there were two – one one either side of the harbour entrance). At midnight, the real fireworks started (meaning it got really loud and really colourful) and then the bonfire got lit. It looked good, with a very showy flame, helped along by the right amount of wind. Shortly after that a faint drizzle started that sort of spoiled the whole thing a bit – you could see many people starting to head home, us included, me having made the same mistake I always make at these occasions: dressing too lightly. I had thought, oh, it is so mild anyway, without thinking of a) the wind b) the fact we would be standing still for some time. So I already was slightly cold and did not need to add being completely wet. When we arrived home, Granny had already tugged the boys in (who had watched the fireworks from the big windows upstairs). We stayed a bit longer, as you cannot really sleep before 2 a.m. anyway, when noise from all those fire crackers starts to fade.

I got up this morning with my usual first-of-January-feeling: very tired (did not manage to fall asleep until long after 3 a.m.), slightly grumpy about being tired, slightly feeling strange because it is supposed to be a new year but really only is a new day, but with a new way to write the date. Usually it takes some time until I can write the proper year without flinching. (So, let’s practice: 2016, 2016, 2016….) But the sun was shining, which was good, and the boys were reasonably friendly with each other, which always helps.

After lunch I decided it was time for a Zen moment, took my bike and headed off for the beach again. It had gotten colder, like it often does after new year (funny, does the weather have a calendar too?), but this time I had dressed more sensibly. The first thing I noticed was how empty the streets around our house were. Everyone seemed to be either still having lunch or taking a nap. The second thing I noticed was the dirt that was lying around in front of many houses: the remnants of the fireworks, sticks and paper wrappers and stuff. Some spots were covered with red cracker wrappers. Normally I would not describe our area as dirty, but today many streets were outright filthy. What happened to cleaning up after yourself? I mean, even if you are too tired in the evening or claim it is too dark, why can’t people pick up a broom in the morning and clean up the mess they made? Fireworks are not really environment friendly anyway, but at least you could try to limit the damage. Oh well.

When I came closer to the beach, I realised where all the people where: there. The beach is still big enough that it did not look crowded, but the streets were. It always amazes me how many people still try to take their car to the beach on days like this. I mean: public holiday, clear sky, sunshine… not a good idea to take the car there. There are enough parking spots now I guess, but the streets leading to and from the area had sprouted traffic jams. I weaved through them with my bike, locked it next to loads of other bikes on the boulevard and started my walk on the sand.

The big bonfire had burned down to a big heap of ashes, still producing smoke. Some diggers were busy transferring the ashes on trucks. Every time they dug into the ashes, thick dark smoke came out, twice I could even still see a flame. It must still have been very hot in there.

People were walking on the beach, alone, in pairs, in groups, with children or dogs or both. Quite a lot of surfers where out too. I could feel the sun in my face, amazing that it has some strength even in January. In spite of all the people, I still managed to keep my feeling of being on my own. My beach, my sea, my sky. Briefly I considered dropping in at one of the cafes for coffee, but I did not feel like speaking. Plus when I passed them I saw how crowded they where, so I just enjoyed the smell of fresh coffee coming from there and walked on.

When I pedalled home on my bike later, a saw a girl, maybe thirteen, fourteen years old, blond hair, cleaning the street in front of her house with a broom. I smiled at her, but she was too busy to notice me. She had a look of serious concentration on her face.

Faith in humankind restored. We can do this. 🙂

Welcome, 2016. We may have greeted you in a way that was showy but messy, but we can still make it good.

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Random New Year Thoughts

Could it possibly be that the special New Year’s Feeling everyone is talking about is just a huge wave of tiredness?

When I woke up yesterday morning (it being January 1st) my first thoughts were something along the lines of “ooooohhhh I am tired”. You see, I did not simply wake up, I was woken up by Younger Son. And although it was a really merciful hour (8.30 – everyone with young kids will agree that this great!), still all I could think was “oh nooooo”.

We did not even have a party on New Year’s Eve, no crazy stuff. Husband and I spent a quiet evening reading, writing, tinkering, listening to music. But of course we stayed up until midnight, event though at 21.30 I thought how nice it would be just to fall asleep on the sofa and miss the whole stuff. Around 23.30 I felt rather awake again though, so we fetched the bubbly drink, followed the countdown on Husband’s phone (you would not believe it, but the radio station we were listening to switched from music to commercials for the last two minutes of 2013, followed by the news – at least they had the decency to wish everyone a Happy New Year before they started to read the news) – then we had a kiss and a drink 🙂

Afterwards we ventured upstairs, having promised the boys to wake them for the fireworks. This was the first time Younger Son had requested this and I had my doubts he would wake up happily at this hour. On the stairs we were greeted by Older Son in his pyjamas, with ruffled hair, blinking sleepily without his glasses, looking unbelievably cute. We asked him how he had managed to wake up at exactly the right moment. He just smiled. Younger Son was remarkably easy to wake, and soon all four of us were settled on the the sofa in Older Son’s room, looking out of the big window. Husband and I each had a cuddly son wrapped in his blanket sitting on our laps, and so we watched as outside a beautiful show on the sky unfolded.

I have to say I am sort of ambivalent about the whole concept of fireworks. On the one hand I see all the news articles about children (and adults) getting hurt when shooting stuff into the sky, plus it creates an immense amount of dirt, plus I won’t event think about the billions of Euros that are just sent puff into nothingness – but it does look pretty. (I only like the colourful ones… I really hate the loud crackers that only go boom and scare everyone to bits.) So the idea that has been discussed here, that instead of private fireworks there should only be ‘official’ fireworks organised by the cities, that one does not sounds too bad for me. But the league of fireworks lovers shout out in despair, since they love to do their own stuff. Oh well, I guess there won’t be any change here soon. I just wish those kids would be more careful (my boys luckily are very nervous around fireworks until now… they won’t go near it).

When the lights in the sky got less and less, we managed to get two happy boys back to their beds – Younger Son went out like a light, the older one took a while to settle back to sleep. Husband and I stayed awake for a little longer, lingering in the living room, having a late night snack. So it got really late in the end – thus my feeling of “ohhhhh I am tired” next morning.

After a cup of tea my thoughts managed to go a bit further. I still felt tired like anything, and the whole concept of having a whole new year in front of me somehow seemed a lot. But in the end it was just another day, as usual. On Monday school will start again for the boys, and it won’t be “new” at all – no new school year, just a new term, same teachers, same friends, same routine.

So what did I get out of the whole ado around the concept of “New Year”?

I got 45 minutes of sitting there with my family in the dark, watching the sky turn into our own private light show, watching the boys go “ooohhh” and “aahh”, seeing them pointing out especially nice ones to each other. Feeling them cuddle against me, listening to them comparing the colours and effects. It was for sure the cosiest New Year’s Eve I have ever had.

That’s a lot to be happy about, isn’t it?