Editor’s note: Brien is a well-traveled Houstonian and Army Combat Veteran with an extremely wide range of talents and interests including the NFL (Packers), Irish History, and writing. Follow him on twitter @ODonalsVanguard
By BRIEN O’DONAL
Hooray! Another year has come and gone. Once again while everyone is out partying and reminding themselves that there are a few moments each year that it’s OK to act like you’re 21 again, I was at home hosting game night with a group of friends. To be fair, I had a great time. But in all seriousness, when I was still spending this holiday with my family we celebrated by blowing sh– up. As I sat at that table Saturday night there was a realization that it may be a while before I get to put flame to fuse again. In some parts of Houston it is still permissible to light fireworks and that is where I used to be. Now I live in the Woodlands; no fireworks for us.
The last few years have been good to me and I shouldn’t sound like I’m complaining, but I probably will. I found the love of my life and in the last year I put ring to finger to make that solid. I had to move out here to the Woodlands because my wife works a mile and a half from the house and there’s no sense in both of us having a commute. But geez, did it have to be so far away? My family is all from the East Side so I am used to everyone getting together to drink beer and spend hundreds of dollars for a firework show starting around 11 p.m. That is some exciting stuff. My wife’s giant dog is afraid of fireworks so now we can’t leave it home while people in The Woodlands who aren’t supposed to have fireworks blast them off in close proximity to the house. When we came home from dinner this year we found he had left an unpleasant surprise for us. All the more reason we will be doing game night again next year.
I know it’s not that big of a deal to spend the night playing games, hell; there are probably a lot of people reading this who did something similar. My point is this; when did I go from exciting holiday celebrations to game nights in my suburban home? The answer is slowly. It happens slowly and with age. At the end of the night I was actually up later than I thought I would be. In hindsight I went to sleep earlier than I used to and over the course of New Year’s Day I napped multiple times. I have to accept the fact that I am getting old. Maybe sitting at home with friends drinking beer and playing games is better than wasting money and hearing on something that in reality isn’t that entertaining.
What about all those people who are enjoying a big New Year’s Eve party in the city somewhere? I did that once or twice when I was younger. Those were good times. The chance to listen to live music or enjoy a big party that spans multiple blocks is a great time. I remember the year I came back from Iraq my friends and I spent some deployment money on a couple bottles of Dom Perignon and wore suits and ties to multiple clubs in Frankfurt. It is memories like that that make me lament the game nights now. I want to wish nothing but great memories to all the people who spent their night partying like a rock star. Apparently those days are in the past for me.
In the coming year my first born male heir will come forth unto this world. It is my goal to provide him a proper education. In my opinion this should include both the book learning and everything the world can provide him. Hopefully I will be able to show my son the same New Year’s experiences I enjoyed. I want him to nearly burn himself tossing black cats at his friends. I want him to witness the bright explosions of color started in the street near his house. If I continue to settle into my ways will I be too crotchety to want to enjoy that kind of holiday party again? The answer is yes. I may have started to accept my holiday celebration but I do not have to like it. In fact, I must learn to rage against the dying of the light and be ready to show my son how awesome it is to blow sh– up!
In the end, I spent a fun night with my friends. I had some good beer and some good cocktails and a lot of laughs. That is what the celebration is supposed to be about and it will be the same again next year. Here’s to those of us who enjoy a good game night with friends and eschew the loud noises and explosions. As I write this I think back reflectively on what got me to this point and the answers are many and none. All I have to do is accept things year to year and do what I can to make myself feel young. We should all do the same I guess. Happy New Year, may we all learn to stop worrying and accept our fate.