I'm writing this on the morning of New Year's Eve and ruminating my decline into old age. Twenty years ago I would wake on this day almost unable to stomach breakfast, far to excited and distracted thinking about the evening to come. I'd probably picked out my outfit months previously and planned, with great strategic precision how to get that New Year's smooch from the poor unsuspecting chap of choice for that particular year. The outfit would definitely have included a short skirt and high heels whilst laughing in the face of ten foot snow drifts and minus 20 temperatures outside.
Things have changed. This morning I've enjoyed a leisurely beans on toast whilst contemplating a get out option for this evening's revelries.
New Year's Eve, Silvester in Germany, is generally celebrated in a way I would have greatly appreciated in my child-free youth. It's all about being as loud as possible (apparently in order to drive away evil winter spirits) which they achieve with the use of Böllern or fireworks. It's a huge tradition here.
My husband proudly tells of his youth making homemade fireworks with his best mate having bought all the "ingredients" from the Apotheke! Amazingly, he still has all his fingers.
Things haven't changed much. Whilst you will no longer find gunpowder at the local chemist you can buy fireworks everywhere from little sparklers to huge exploding incendiaries, often let off up and down the streets which would have British 'elf and safety spinning in their comfortable shoes!
We've been invited to a party at a neighbour's house. I have no idea what I'll be wearing but you can be sure it will be trousers (I might relent and forego the thermal long johns) and winter boots.
Here is the question: What do you do with a four year old girl who, if she stays up much longer than her usual 7pm bedtime, turns into The Princess of Darkness? Use her as the perfect excuse to leave the revelries early? Turn a blind eye and allow her to stay up until midnight? Try and slip her off upstairs into one of the bedrooms when she begins to flag? If I do that, will the shock of 1000 Böllern going off at midnight shock her into a medical emergency?
I suspect what will happen is my four-year-old little girl will party on until midnight and beyond whilst her 40-year-old mother begins to flag at around 10pm and will probably be found slumped in an armchair somewhere snoring and dribbling into her woolly scarf.