Ringing in 2014

As the minute hand ticked toward midnight, my friends and I grabbed our glasses of champagne and gathered together. I slipped my husband’s glass into his hand as he cradled our friend’s baby girl, just a couple of weeks old and already greeting a new year.

Midnight arrived and we clinked glasses, carefully keeping eye contact and exchanging greetings for the new year in each of our languages. I managed a few sips of champagne before we gathered our arsenal of fireworks and ran down to the street to join the neighbors who were already outside celebrating.

As we prepared our rockets, fountains, and firecrackers, I looked up and down the street. A half-dozen other groups of friends and families were setting off their own displays, including some impressive roman candles from a larger group on the street corner. Even bigger fireworks from surrounding streets shone over the rooftops around us.

We waved to the new baby and her mother in the window, watching the show from inside. Bright colors and the sounds of festivities filled the street. We let out spontaneous “oohs,” “aahs,” and applause for our favorites — like our little rocket that spiraled up into the air (and came dangerously close to lighting up our friend’s balcony) and the sizzling starburst fireworks in the neighbor’s street-corner display.

Looking around the neighborhood, I felt we were all linked by a mixture of euphoria, fear, and the hazy smoke filling the air from explosion after explosion. Finally, we exhausted our supply and slowly made our way back inside, warming up our chilled fingers and toes and settling in to the new year together.

Image of New Year’s Eve 2011/2012 in Köln by Ingo Meironke (cc)