Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NYE in a blizzard

WHEN I WAS young, my family would celebrate New Year's Eve by letting the kids stay up and by praying as the clock struck midnight. My, how things changed as I got older.

For two years in a row in the late 1980s, we had the best NYE parties behind the old Rosewood house in Grand Rapids. It was a big field, and we had a huge bonfire to ring in the new year.

During my college years I worked at Kingma's Market. We sold Christmas trees, and I distinctly remember me and a co-worker, Peter Kuiper, driving a big box truck and picking up trees from massive homes in East Grand Rapids after Christmas. One time we got a large tip and ended up spending it at the Last Chance Bar on Burton near Kalamazoo, less than a mile from the old Kingma's. But that's another story.
Bye Bye 2014!

There were usually a few trees left over in the Kingma's lot, and one year we grabbed a bunch of them, along with some old and rotting wooden pallets, loaded them in the truck and drove to the place behind Rosewood. There was about three feet of snow on the ground, so we simply smashed the truck through the snow and the field, dumped off the trees and waited for nightfall.

This was more than 25 years ago, so the memories are fuzzy now, and likely more fuzzy the next day. I just remember it snowing hard as we huddled around the fire. We threw a Christmas tree into the pit, and it made a huge woooosh noise and exploded into flames.

Of course it was dumb and probably dangerous, though there was a ton of snow on the ground and we had water in a bucket, which promptly froze. One year a fire truck came down Rosewood, but the firefighters simply laughed at us after they saw it was a bunch of college kids, and they turned right around in the blizzard and left.

I can still see, smell and taste that bonfire. I remember being in a hurry to grow up around that time, but now it's all about remembering how simple life was, and how much fun we had.

No bonfires in blizzards tonight. But I'm still smiling.

My immediate family is long gone from Grand Rapids. I have a dear cousin, Natalie, who lives about a mile from the house on Rosewood. Perhaps she can drive down the street, pause in front of the last house on the right, and laugh out loud.

I bet she'll still smell the smoke, too.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha. I might. It is snowing today. I fondly remember bonfires at that house, although your more-responsible brother didn't make fires quite as massive as the one you describe. I prayed in many a NYE, myself, over the years in Toronto. Now, not so much...