Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Child's New Year's Eve in Upstate New York

New Year’s Eve in our family meant just one thing – the Annual Costume Party. For it was then, that my parents and their fun-loving friends would play dress-up for one night.

Sometime around Christmas the invitation to the annual party would arrive in the mail. “Please join us for a Cruise to the Caribbean”, or for a "Hawaiian Luau”, or “Come dressed as a Beatnik” it would read. Thus, added to the flurry of the holiday activities, would be the pressure of what my parents would wear on the evening of December 31st.

Each couple was on their own when it came to ideas for costume attire. Since I was the artsy member of the family, I was tapped to be our in-house stylist. I remember well the year when the invitees were asked to come as a designated famous person. My father was to be Picasso; my mother Joan of Arc. Now Dad, who was completely bald, had the Picasso look down pat. All he really needed to complete his look was a beret (brought back from our family tour of Europe), a torn white tee shirt, khakis and sneakers. Taking a red magic marker in hand, I adorned his tee-shirt with my variation on one of the artist's “Demoiselles d’Avignon”. My poor mother’s costume was less inspired. I only recall that part of her costume was a lamb’s wool hat, which doubled as Joan’s helmet.

The merrymakers would gather in the basement “rec” room of the Glass family on White Springs Road. Their son Teddy was a talented artist, and the genius behind the annual invitations, decorations, and party favors. (He would later become a Hollywood set designer; so in a sense his first gig was at those costume parties).

Sometimes, the party would take place at our house on Washington Street. On the evening, I would perch at the top of the front hall stairs, and try to identify the disguised arrivals by the scent of their perfume or men’s cologne.

Later, laying on the floor of my bedroom, I would listen to the sounds of the adults having fun as they danced and played various party games. Games included the ever popular “Walk the Plank”; "Fashion Designer" (where patterns for clothing were cut from newspapers and pinned on a live model); and the crowd pleaser “Who’s Legs and Feet are these?” (A bed sheet would be tacked across a doorframe two feet up from the floor. One team of guests would take turns standing behind the barrier, and showing a little bit of leg. Then the team out front had to guess who belonged to which legs).

The morning after, I would eagerly rush downstairs. Then I would raid the refrigerator for exotic left-overs, and stale bottles of ginger ale; while awaiting my parents’ review of the festivities.

How wonderful and innocent it was for these hard-working adults to have this once-a-year night to laugh and play like children!

I toast them, (almost all now gone to the big party in the sky); and I toast all of you: “May your hearts be filled with the joy, wonder and laughter of children this coming year!”



  1. Hi Marjorie!
    It must be an upstate NY thing! I can remember these parties too! My husband and I grew up together and our parents were good friends...They had lots of parties but their New Years Eve party was usually a costume party...In fact one year my father wore a diaper and a banner and went as Baby New Year! Now, my Dad was a dignified banker and we kids were shocked at his costume! Those folks sure knew how to have a good time! In fact, as teenagers and then newlyweds we loved to attend our parents' gala events! Thanks for some happy memories! Have a wonderful New Year's Eve and I hope 2010 brings you lots of fun! :)

  2. Thanks for the peek inside your family. I love the silhouettes.

  3. What fabulous memories! I wish my family had dressed up more often!
    Love those silhouettes.
    happy New Year!

  4. I adore this post, Marjorie! What a magical memory so beautifully captured. I especially love you trying to identify the adults by scent.

    Sending you warm wishes for a beautiful new year!!

    xoxo Gigi

  5. That was fun and how wonderful that you remember it. It was fun to read Laura's memories of her parents too. My parents were much older when they had me but I have pictures of them at some crazy parties when they were young. Too embarrassing to show on my
    Reminds of that blog...."my parents were cool" or some such name. Anyways...
    Happy New Year dear friend!

  6. This sounds wonderful, exeactly the kinda fun I'd love to have now.
    The silhouettes are beautiful too.
    I hope 2010 is filled with fun,laughter and many a great surprise ! Bonne Année!

  7. Dear, dear Marjorie,

    I've loved every minute of knowing you. Thank you again for your wonderful blog and your frequent visits chez moi. Let's not forget we have a project for the new year.

    Until then, I wish you a joy-filled new year in which all your hopes and dreams come true.

    Warmest regards,

  8. Beautiful post!

    Warm, woolly wishes, Marjorie, for a wonderful 2010~!

  9. Oh Marjorie,
    That was a joy to read. Sounds like a good time was had by all. My parents had similar parties and , like you, I couldn't wait for the morning so that I could eat all of the leftovers. I know that, as a VERY young child, I drained all of the glasses of there contents that had been left !! I think there was gin and tonic and scotch and everything. Naughty me !!
    Have a wonderful New Year's Eve and a fantastic 2010. With much love. XXXX

  10. A costume party would be the only thing to get me out on New Year's Eve. Beautiful post.

    Wishing you all the best in 2010, Marjorie.


  11. Hi Marjorie!
    I really enjoyed this. You are so talented. I just want you to know that I have enjoyed your comments and input on my blog this year and I intend to try and make more time to devote to some of the marvelous people like you that I have met through this..Oh and I love the leg thing that is hysterical...Have a very happy and prosperous new year.......

  12. Marjorie - This post warms my heart. Thank you for the kind comments regarding my grandmother's photo. Her parties were just like this! I spent a lot of time there as a kid and would always watch in wonderment at their fun parties and themes. I've got a great photo of them hosting a "tacky party". I'll have to do a post on these very soon because honestly, they really knew how to have fun. Sometimes I wonder why these entertaining styles aren't carried on today.

  13. What a lovely post, Marjorie. I so enjoyed reading of their fun and frivolity. how marvelous. Well, here's you all the best for the new year too. Thanks for your own bit in adding to the blogging experience!

  14. How beautiful what a magical happening...'Happy New Year'
    May all your dreams come true xxx
    I just adore the silhouettes they are beautiful.
    Hugs Lynn xxx

  15. Hi Marjorie
    Beautiful post full of fun memories. My parent's wedding anniversary was Boxing Day and I remember similar parties they had at that time of year with the grownup having their chance to have fun and be silly. Although we kids were suppose to stay at the front of the house we always sneaked a look. Or if you were my brother, then you built a bonfire in the lounge room for attention. he he Yes... it was fun. Have a wonderful 2010 my friend and thanks for all your lovely posts xx Julie

  16. Marjorie, this was so much fun to read....I really enjoyed it.....

    It has been so much fun to get to know you this year...and I am looking forward to more in 2010....

    Wishing you a peaceful and HAPPY NEW YEAR....dear friend


  17. Now that's a party! Truly delightful memories. Happy New Year wishes! xx GG

  18. What a great story to remember your parents I wish you a happy new year!
    all the best, desiree

  19. Marjorie, what a fantastic and cozy post. Thank you for giving us all a peak into your home and life. I'm so glad we crossed paths this past year and I look forward to getting to know you more. HNy! :)

  20. Hi my dear friend, finally my computer works, so I can tank you for your lovely wishes and I can wish a very happy new year full of love and serenity!!!!
    Such wonderful memories!!!!!I love very very much especially those wonderful silouettes, simply great!!!!
    Have a nice week and see you soon.

  21. What wonderful fun! So many of us have forgotten to have fun like that. I too remember listening to my parents parties. It seems that now the thing to do is keep them kid friendly and have the kids around. I think it's so much more fun for both if the children are upstairs reading, or peeking :)
    Happy new year Marjorie! Hopefully I will get to meet you in person this year...