I recently shared my one of my family’s traditions: watching The Twilight Zone on New Years Eve each year. That column ended up being far too long, out of my pure love for the program. Don’t worry, this is not another synopsis of my favorite episodes. Instead, while on the phone with my parents discussing that column, they reminded me of one particular New Year that they tried their best to get me to celebrate. I’d like to share that story with you today.
The year was 1999, but only for a few more hours. I was five years old, halfway through my first year of kindergarten as the countdown began into the new millennia. Always one to love sleep, my parents struggled to keep me awake until midnight to ring in this momentous moment with them. At my age, I had no idea about Y2K and the panic surrounding that particular holiday.
I was treated to candy, dance parties, played with a Lite Brite and many other activities to try to keep me awake. A Lite Brite, for anyone who may have not been, or had a child in the 1990s was a toy that was a light box with small colored plastic pegs that fit into a panel and illuminate to create a lit picture. I am not sure why playing with this glowing toy is one of my most specific memories of ringing in the year 2000.
In 1999, my family had just one dog to join in on the celebration. His name was Percy. I was allowed to pick his name and I chose to name him after the dog in the Disney movie, Pocahontas. My parents spent years explaining the name to confused adults. Apparently not everyone was as obsessed with the animated movie as I was. I don’t remember Percy participating in any of the activities that night, but I am sure he was there, looking on with his sweet and loving eyes. It is amazing how much things can change in 20 years.
My parents recall trying to hold me up by my arms (gently) and propping up my nodding head as I slumped into a peaceful childhood slumber while the Times Square countdown blasted through our living room. It was a moment in history, one they did not want me to miss, but there is a part of me that is glad they couldn’t keep me awake. Otherwise, what is the story?
Again, to my recollection, none of the panic of Y2K came to fruition. The year and millennia changed just as it has over thousands of years. But, my memories of that night aren’t very clear. I was very young and I adore how hard my parents worked to make it a special night, but had I been able to stay awake, would I remember anything from the turn of the millennia? The term “millennial,” ready to follow my generation around for our lifetimes? I cannot answer that.
What I can tell you is that we made memories that night. There’s a phrase that is thrown around with me and my parents a lot. It goes something like, “but we made a memory,” any time things went awry in our adventures. I was recently interviewing someone and within about ten minutes, she guessed that I was an only child. I suppose it is obvious in the way that I talk about my parents, as friends, as vital parts of every childhood memory, instead of just an authority figure, or not mentioning them at all to strangers...which just occurred to me.
I’ve lived my whole life being made fun of or being pitied for being an only child. After 26 years, I know how to appreciate having parents that chose to have one child, and put their whole lives into starting mine. Our little trio made and continues to make memories, and that’s what we believe truly matters.
— Contact Emily Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice