Happy New Year! Happy New Year! Happy New Year! Happy New Year! Happy New Year! Happy New Year! Happy New Year!
That’s what my new year’s celebration was like... I celebrated 7 times.
I had no invitations, so I was like Great! I’ll be alone!
I didn’t want to be alone on New Years, so I bought a bottle of wine for company. The plan was to be completely smashed when the clock struck twelve so that I would forget how lonely I’d be.
Then I remembered what Mator said about how Ghanaians celebrated New Years... at church. She told me that everyone spends the night praying until midnight, then everyone shouts and celebrates.
Spending my New Years Eve at a church?! But look at the alternative... alone, shit-faced, in an African convent, kissing a bottle of wine at midnight. Besides, I’m trying to embrace Ghanaian culture, and if their culture is to pray the New Year in, I should at least experience it once. I have the rest of my life to party.
But I still wouldn’t be able to celebrate with my family and friends... or would I?
My New Year’s celebration started at 4pm, Ghanaian time. As soon as my cell phone’s clock changed from 3:59 to 4:00, I shouted out, “Happy New Year!” Everyone stared at me like I was crazy. I returned their stares. “It’s the new year in Hong Kong!” I protested. “I have friends in Hong Kong. I’m celebrating with them.”
I walked to church with Sister Anne at 10:00. At 10:50 or so, I got up and went outside. I sat on a little wall and looked up at the stars until it was 11. I ran out to the bush and shouted “Happy New Year!” to all my friends in Europe.
Church went on, as usual, except that the benches in front of me were covered with sleeping children up way past their normal bedtime. At five ‘til, the priest asked everyone to sit down and pray. He told us to think about the year past, to thank God for the year we just had and for the year we were about to start.
In the last five minutes of 2008, I thought about everything I’ve been through this year, the good, the bad, the wonderful. It was definitely a volatile year, full of ups and downs, quite the roller coaster. I thought about the lows: seasonal depression, a broken heart, a quarter-life crisis, my first car accident, being attacked by dogs, being a stranger in a foreign country, spending my first Christmas away from home.
But the highs were so high. I had some fantastic accomplishments and some wonderful experiences. The biggest accomplishment, of course, was graduating college. What a high! That was such a great feeling! I also managed to travel a bit in the US, and I spent a lot of quality time with my family and friends. Some of the highlights of 2008 were my summer job working for EF, the John Mayer concert, and learning to forgive my worst enemy. Then, of course, I fulfilled my life goal of moving to Africa as a volunteer. That was an accomplishment, wasn’t it?
I said “Thank you” to God for such a great year. Even though some not-so-great things happened to me, I learned from them, and I have no regrets. A year without regrets, I say, is a good year, indeed.
At midnight, the priest asked the choir to give us a song to welcome the new year... what a song! What a party! For twenty minutes, the choir played and sang only the most lively, most upbeat of all Ghanian church hymns, with their joyful voices, African drum beats, cow bells, rattles, etc, while the rest of the church danced around, greeting everyone, wishing everyone happy new year. It was actually pretty awesome! Happy New Year, Ghana!
When we got back to the house, Sister Anne popped the Robby Bubbles (sparkling banana juice!), and we snacked on popcorn, groundnuts, and this interesting type of chip, until we were too tired to stay up any longer. I went to sleep at around 2, but I didn’t sleep for long.
At 4:55, my alarm went off. I woke myself up to get ready to ring in the new year with my friends on the East Coast and my sister in Jamaica. Happy New Year! And by 5:01, I was sleeping again.
I woke up again at 6 to celebrate with my friends in Arkansas. Happy New Year!
I don’t know if any of my friends are living in the mountain time zone, but as I was already awake at 7, I celebrated anyway, just in case. Happy New Year!
I decided to celebrate BIG in the Pacific time zone, since that’s where I’m from. I tried to open the bottle of wine, but the corkscrew broke, and it really wasn’t my fault... it was cheap! So I still have an unopened bottle of wine on my desk with a piece of wire sticking out. I turned on my computer and watched as the second hand on the computer’s clocked ticked the seconds closer to 8AM. Finally, when the big hand was on the 10, I counted down with all of the West Coast. I imagined watching a big ball dropping on TV in New York, 3 hours delayed, knowing that every person in the PST zone was chanting the exact same numbers as I: 10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Oh, counting down with California made me feel such a connection with them! I felt so jubilant for about 5 seconds, then I became really sad that I was alone, no “happy new year” hugs from my friends, no one kissing me at midnight.
But still... 7 “Happy New Years” in 16 hours... not bad.
Welcome, 2009. Please be good to us.
Happy New Year to all of you!