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  • Jessica Harris

Reinventing Traditions

Updated: Dec 28, 2018


New Years Eve pre-kids… youthful, Sparkly outfits, crowded bars, swanky restaurants, taxi/limo rides, hours of chasing a good time, booze, booze and more booze, and a hefty hangover. Good times!


December 31, 2002 - Partying in Downtown San Diego


Until you have kids and then New Years completely changes.


No more swanky 10 course dinners because you are broke from buying diapers. You swap sexy dresses and heels for cozy pajamas and fuzzy socks. No crowded bars, just hanging at home while barely making it to midnight because the baby won’t ever let you sleep. No loud noisemakers, fireworks, and ball dropping countdowns because you might wake up the kids. Kissing your husband- nope- that might give him the wrong idea! Booze? Maybe one glass but any more and you won’t be able to handle the morning chaos of kids.


New realities sometimes require new holiday rituals!


In the spirit of embracing change, on December 31, 2012 my sister and brother-in-law hosted a family New Year’s Eve party at their house. They wanted to keep the excitement of an iconic holiday going even though we were middle-aged parents with young kids. It was that night that a new tradition was born!


A tradition is an established pattern of thought, action, or behavior and since 2012 my sister’s party has always included four main components:

1. A swanky fun wine tasting/contest for the adults

2. Blowing up “shit” AKA… Fireworks

3. Playing group games like Left Right Center

4. Celebrating New York New Years at 10pm



The wine tasting is always a focal point of the evening. Each couple brings a bottle or two of wine following established guidelines for the year. For example, one year it was one red/one white, while another year it was one expensive bottle and one cheap bottle. Each guest slides their bottle into a bag or pours it into a carafe to disguise it before the wine tasting and then my sister randomly numbers the bottles. She passes out wine logs so we can write our descriptions, our preferences and our rankings. We snack on appetizers during the tasting and we cleanse our palate in between each glass of wine. At the end of the tasting the wine logs are used to determine the winning bottle and the couple that brought it is given a prize.



This is such a fun tradition and it tends to get a little rowdy as the evening goes on. Typically we sip wine at a leisurely pace, but during this tasting the wine is constantly flowing as we move from one bottle to the next in a short amount of time. The whole group wine buzz turns into crazy gambling during Left Right Center game and loud debauchery outside while we blow up “shit” in the street. The kids sit on the sidewalk while the drunken adults play with fire in the middle of the street. At 10pm, we count down with the New York New Year, kiss our spouses and take a quick family picture. Then we wind down for the night so everyone is home before midnight. This New Years Party has become a a very special tradition.



But traditions come with a lot of expectations


What happens when things change in life change such as having kids, or a few guests are doing a one-year booze snooze? This year only two or three of the guests will be drinking wine on News Years Eve, the other half of the guest list is making personal choices to abstain from alcohol. Well, that sure seems like a buzz kill to having our traditional wine tasting! I kind of feel bad for my sister because change can be complicated, and trying to please everyone can create stress. She is probably conflicted because she doesn’t want to abandon the tradition of all of us getting together, but she recognizes that the old wine tasting won’t work this year. She may be wondering if they party will “feel the same” without half the guests drinking. She may be sad that her awesome wine tasting idea crafted many years ago won’t happen this year. However, like I said earlier, new realities sometimes require new holiday rituals and my sister is a perfect example of someone who recognizes that change is okay.


She knows how to embrace the change without losing the spirit of our tradition!


This year, my sister is still hosting her New Year’s Eve party but is thinking about a new “twist” that we can put in our tradition. She is going to host a Mocktail contest. How cool is that? Guests can still choose to enjoy their wine and champagne but those who prefer to abstain can still participate in a group activity. We can still sit around in her library/wine room, we can still have fancy Mocktail logs that we write on, we can still crown a winner, we can still gamble and we can still blow up “shit”.



Thank you Sis


For supporting Rick and me during our one-year booze snooze goal and for your openness to reinventing traditions!


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