It's New Year's Eve. And it would have been Dad's 75th birthday. I like to think it still is.
Last year, I started spending New Year's Eve in the desert, camping with Jim, Missy, Lacey and a bunch of their/our friends. Lotsa sand, quads, sand rails, illegal fireworks, bonfires, rib-sticking food, ginormous marshmellows for roasting, and beer. This year, the plan was to do the same. But the closer it came, the more we realized we didn't want to leave Mom home alone on Dad's birthday. So Jim and I decided to take a break from the desert -- we all got there Tuesday -- to drive home today to spend the afternoon, evening, and tomorrow morning with her before returning to New Year's Camp until Sunday. Mom didn't want us to interrupt our trip, of course, but we wanted to.
Having your birthday on New Year's Eve has to be kinda like having it on Christmas...it gets overshadowed by its proximity to Santa's big day and Baby New Year's gig. Last year for the very first time, I FINALLY remembered to buy Dad two gifts when I went Christmas shopping. Usually, I would get everyone's Christmas presents, hit the road to Bridgeport, and halfway there, realize, "Shit! I forgot to get Dad a birthday present!" No malls in Bridgeport, you know, and with only a week separating the holidays, this was a problem. Figures he'd be gone this year when my brain finally had it dialed in.
Mom and Dad never went out on New Year's...Dad always said it was "amateur night." Mom typically made a ham dinner with all the fixin's, and then they would call it an early evening, and the rest of us would go out to ring it in with all the other non-pros.
It's surreal this year, no doubt, without him here. Jim and I rolled in at 12:30, met Mom at Hay's Street for lunch, and have just been relaxing the rest of the afternoon. We'll head down to Rhino's at 7:00 to eat dinner and Mom has agreed to hang out with us there to hear a bit of "The Band" at 9:00. That's a local band that includes Jason, one of Dad's fave bartenders, and Gordon, one of Dad's golfing buddies, and I think we might have even been able to talk Dad into coming down for a few sets. If he were here. In person. I believe he's here in spirit, and will likely be listening to "The Band's" debut with us....and will be mumbling about amateurs.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.