For what it’s worth, I would still say cheers for the past year. 2015 was surely one that marked because this was the year my father stepped into the other room called Afterlife. It was a tough one for me and my mom so I’m praying that 2016 will be good not just to me but to us all.
My boyfriend and I did not have anything special planned to welcome the New Year. We scrapped the idea of having a nice dinner in Umeå city center because most of the restaurants were closed apart from some hotel restaurants that were charging steep prices. I did not want to start a year with a thin wallet! Being the Asian (Rice is power!) girl that I am, we did check out a nice Chinese place that was supposed to be open for New Year’s Eve but the waiter pretended he didn’t speak English even if he clearly understood what my boyfriend had said to him. So much for pretending! With a seething boyfriend, we left and just decided that I cook. We would just have a nice candlelit dinner and a trip to town for the fireworks show.
Our preparations were spontaneous yet successful. We bought everything that we needed within two hours. We set up the table with fruits, our heaping dinner plates, dessert, and of course, the drinks! My eyes though kept watch of the gleaming Ferrero box of assorted goodness. That in itself will bring in the New Year just right.
I normally go to the city center without make-up on but that night was different. I thought it was just appropriate to look my best to remind myself of new beginnings. I know it’s dark and cold outside but I didn’t decide to doll up to impress anyone, I did it for myself to feel nice and good. It was my superstitious side telling me to welcome the year with a glammed face.
When we arrived in town, the Christmas decorations nicely lit the atmosphere. It was pretty quiet still as most were celebrating in private parties. It felt sort of weird because I was so used to loud and busy New Year’s parties. Police presence was surprisingly high that night even if the town square looked empty (at first).
We walked around hoping to find a bar to get a few drinks but were unlucky so we decided to just head straight to where the New Year’s program would be held. We had to wriggle our way around to find a place so I can see the stage and the riverside. Most Swedes are tall so I had to be smart, I found a sweet spot where no one was in front of me to block my view.
Right after we settled, I thought of Manila. I remembered how crazy we Filipinos are with firecrackers and fireworks that even before midnight our grounds and skyline would already seem like a war zone. It also isn’t surprising that our street parties start at 7 pm on the 31st and would last until 7 am on the 1st. I must admit I preferred a loud celebration but the great contrast between relaxed Umeå and hectic Manila did not matter to me. The Eve’s program in town was mellow with soft music and a speech, not too electric and was just rightfully fitting for a cold night.
With the last minute of the year approaching, I was thankful I learned Swedish numbers early on so I was able to keep up with the countdown! The fireworks display which lasted more than 10 minutes was quite the spectacle I had expected. Hearing people shout “Gott Nyt År!” while toasting (a lot had brought drinks with them), sweethearts kissing, and children jumping jolted me back into sweet reality that one year passed and another had clearly commenced. Cliché to say “New Beginnings” but that is what I think the New Year’s Eve is all about. That small window of time closed the door of the past and ushered in the start of a future. It gave my mind’s eye time to play a flashback of events of the past year as I watched the fireworks light up the night sky. Accepting the lessons of the bad while cherishing the good experiences, I felt ready to welcome 2016 with a smile. I was instantly filled with feelings of hope and joy.
How did you usher in the new year? Hope it too was a blast!