Friday, 31 December 2010

Why I don't celebrate New Year's Eve

36 years ago today my mother died. It was only four months after my father's death and she had spent her first (only!) Christmas as a widow with us in North London. She went back to her home with my sister and a few days later I got the devastating phone call.

Seven years earlier one of her best frinds - the mother of my best friend in my girlhood - had died, so it was already a sad day in our calendar.

I can remember celebrating New Year's Eve on only a handful of occasions - all sad or disappointing in some way: the time my boyfriend went back to his secret fiancée, the one with gay friends when everyone wanted to kiss my husband, the Hogmanay on Princes Street in Edinburgh when we stood around in the cold waiting for something to happen, the Millennium Eve under Big Ben - actually that one was the best, with great fireworks.

Tonight we'll have a home-made Chinese meal with our youngest and her partner, drink some good wine by the log fire and maybe stay up till midnight, maybe not. But I'll think of my mother, who never met her grandchildren, and was such a loving woman and a great cook. To her I owe many Celtic qualities to do with hospitality and imagination.

Thank you, Ivegh Lassiter.


  1. Mary, thanks for sharing this. Somehow when the date has a wider significance for a community the personal loss seems all the keener. My mother's death was also on an important date here in Australia (Anzac Day, 25 April) and the poignancy of hearing the Last Post sound through the hospital as she lay dying is with me always. I cannot hear it without welling up. May 2011 be kind to you.

  2. It was open-hearted of you to share this, Mary. You could start your own New Year at a different time - I always feel September is a good choice as start of the academic year - or what about your own birthday?

  3. I can so empathise with this post My Dad died 14 years ago yesterday and New Year has never been the same since. As you say there have always been the share of both good and bad ones. This year it is my first without my Mum who I still miss as I realise what a friend she was. I am going out for the first time for a very long time and will be spending it with my daughter and her partner to welcome in a year which has the potential to be very special. Enjoy your evening and I hope 2011 brings you lots of happiness too.

  4. Just a heads up I wrote a quick review on your Stravaganza series on my blog! Hopefully it will introduce the series to new readers!

  5. Oh Brooke thank you! Such a nice review and I forwarded to everyone at Bloomsbury.