It was hard wasn’t it? It was a sad and lonely holiday season this year, for many, and not so joyous for a whole lot more. We tried to adhere to our traditions, and when that proved impossible, we moved on to new ones.
One of the highlights for us was the Boxing Day driveway event we attended at my Brother’s house, where we ate a few oysters, wheeled the new grandbaby around in her Jeep stroller, and enjoyed conversing around two fire pits and tables piled with food. This is definitely a tradition I would like to see continued on December 26th for years to come.
New Year’s Eve was the hardest holiday to “change”. Kevin and I have worked New Year’s Eve for probably 40 of our 65 years. New Year’s Eve in the Restaurant world can be the biggest and hence most profitable night of the year. A whole lot of work to pull off and a whole lot of stress. So, when it’s all over but the pot banging, we are ready to go out and celebrate the end of service and the start of the new year. From the Ironstone in the 80’s and 90’s, we would leave work at midnight or soon thereafter (our customers for the most part were not interested in being in the restaurant at the stroke of 12) and head down High Street to Andy’s. HAP-py New Year we would shout! And we’d stay there until daybreak most years, finally heading home exhausted and happy.
New Year’s Eve at the Kennedyville Inn was just as festive, just as busy and just as stressful. The first year, we left for home a little before midnight, bringing with us a bottle of champagne and some leftovers for snacking. As we drove down our road and passed my mother’s house on the right, we saw that all her lights were on. She was a day-sleeper for many, many years, so at 11:45PM, she was up and wide awake. We made a quick turn into her driveway and for the next 6, 7 years that’s where we spent our after-work New Year’s. At Mom’s house, sometimes with my brother and his wife, then with their kids, then with their kids friends, drinking champagne, eating NYE leftovers, laughing and carrying on. It was the best.
We took some time off in the mid-2000’s, until at Brooks Tavern in 2007 we got right back into the NYE swing, biggest night of the year once again. But then, 2014, Brooks was over and New Year’s suddenly became an open date for us. We could go out ourselves!! Everyone always says that dining out on NYE is for rubes, but we never really agreed with that assessment – our customers were not rubes and Kevin always pulled out all the stops on the 31st of December – so we had no problem with the idea. The question was where? We wanted an event, we wanted dinner and dancing. We’d gone to the Hyatt in Cambridge while we were off and that was the sort of thing we were after – that year they had dancing and dinner and a beautiful venue to spend the weekend. But the following year they changed their program to be “family friendly” and it became more like going to a 5 YO’s birthday party than anything for adults, so that was the end of that.
We looked to Ocean City Maryland, where we found the Princess Royale hotel and its annual New Year’s Eve Gala. We went twice. The first year, we took one look at the buffet – the usual chicken-salmon-overcooked beef buffet – and knew that maybe the kitchen here didn’t quite pull out all the stops, but we’d make the best of it. We were seated at a table with two other couples – whom we did not know – and as the meal service began, Kevin got up to fix us a plate. He came back with a platter of little hors d’oeuvres that he had concocted from what he found available, re-assembled into a very appetizing tableau. The others at the table discreetly peered at our food and I am sure they were wondering “where did he get that food from?”
We kept trying for the “perfect” venue – one year the food was great but the atmosphere was more than dowdy; another year we had hopes for a diverse and lively crowd, only to find ourselves surrounded by the same group of tired old people struggling to enjoy a late night. Finally, 2019, we found our party! Martin’s Crosswinds, over near Greenbelt, featured a huge ballroom converted into the biggest dinner party you’ve ever seen, with several buffets, a great band, dancing, the works. 1000 people! And they made it work, it was quite impressive; the food was great, the crowd was better and we were finally at the New Year’s Eve event we’d been seeking.
And hopefully we will go again…
So this past New Year’s we went camping! No dancing, no party hats, no buffet. Instead, we had a splendid progressive dinner, eating outside under the canopy, drinking Cava and eventually showing 2020 the door.
Happy New Year!