Every year in late December, my family goes to Miami Beach, where my dad grew up, to stay with our grandmother, who we call Yaya. Most years, we're there during New Year's Eve.
When we were younger, on New Year's Eve my parents would go out to dinner and my two brothers and I would stay up until midnight with Yaya, who would buy us ribbons to throw and plastic horns to blow at midnight and would also help us create a stage show to be performed the next morning for the other relatives. The show consisted mainly of reenactments of "Saturday Night Live" sketches and my brother Ezra singing old Yiddish songs with my Great Uncle Jerry. It was held annually, and well past the point at which it stopped being cute. The final year, I remember Yaya dragging my brother and me in front of the family and demanding that we perform our impersonation of Mike Myers doing "Coffee Talk" one last time. I think I was 23.
I like telling people I spend New Year's Eve in Miami Beach. "Where did you spend New Year's?" they ask. "Miami Beach." "Nice!" They think I go to some place called Excess or Suave and dance with Lindsay Lohan until morning.
My real New Year's is quite different. Ever year, in fact, my December 31 is exactly the same:
8:00 AM - I'm asleep. Mom and dad wake up.
8:12 AM - Mom wakes us up and asks us if we want to see the fireworks in South Beach that night, and by the way, where should we go to dinner. We wake up but pretend to be sleeping Mom gives up and we go back to sleep.
9:30 AM - Mom and dad go visit Steve, George, Wendy, Chuck, Steve, Wendy, or another of dad's high school friends.
11:12 AM - My brothers and I wake up.
11:29 AM - I eat a toasted Lender's Bagels with whipped Temptee cream cheese, along with the last bit of lox that's left in the fridge. No one in the family likes lox except me, but every year, at the beginning of our week at Yaya's, someone buys lox. Thank you to whoever that is.
11:47 AM - Mom calls from her cell phone and says maybe we should go to South Beach tonight and where should we have dinner, and someone should pick up key lime pie from Joe's Stone Crabs.
11:56 AM - Yaya looks at the breakfast table, which is littered with cups, napkins, newspapers, and croissants, all left over from the previous seven breakfasts. Yaya warns, "Next year, you're all staying in a hotel."
12:07 PM - Dad arrives home and goes to the bathroom, taking with him Dave Barry's annual year in review article from The Miami Herald. We hear intermittent laughter for the next 35 minutes.
12:14 PM - My brother Nathaniel falls asleep on the couch. He doesn't wake up until dinner.
1:12 PM - Dad, Uncle Barry and I ride bikes to Key Biscayne.
2:23 PM - Mom calls me to ask if we should go to a Thai restaurant, and whether we go to South Beach for fireworks, because it's always a problem finding parking and there is no place to go to the bathroom, and someone should definitely go get Joe's Stone Crabs's famous key lime pie. In a good year, my phone is off.
3:02 PM - Yaya looks at the Hanukkah presents still piled up on the living room floor, even though we exchanged them a week ago. Yaya: "Next year, I'll get a hotel room, and you'll all have to clean the house yourself."
3:20 PM - Mom picks up key lime pie from Joe's Stone Crabs.
4:06 PM - Mom puts Joe's Stone Crabs's famous key lime pie into the freezer.
5:05 PM - It's getting dark and we're still not home from biking. Mom calls the police.
5:17 PM - The sun sets as we ride off the Venetian Causeway and pass Leo Grossman Park. My dad informs me that while growing up, Leo Grossman was his pediatrician or dermatologist or cousin or something like that (Addendum for 2007: Dad asks Barry why Leo Grossman Park is now called Maurice Gibb Park)
5:33 PM - We arrive home from biking to find Yaya sitting on the porch, drinking her third glass of wine. Yaya informs us, "Next year I'm staying at the Fontainebleau. And Ellyn Roth is going to kill you."
5:49 PM - Six people take showers in succession. The first two of those showers have hot water.
7:15 PM - We arrive at the Thai restaurant. Only three other tables are occupied. At one table is my dad's friend Steve from high school. At another are the restaurant workers who can't believe other people showed up on New Year's Eve. At another is a homeless family.
7:29 PM - We debate whether to order the crispy whole fish in sweet and spicy sauce. We eventually decide to go for it.
7:38 PM - Nine people order twenty-three main dishes.
9:20 PM - On our way out we grab a handful of mints. Outside, we throw each mint up as high as we can and try to catch it in our mouths.
9:45 PM - We arrive home and watch "Project Runway" on DVR.
10:06 PM - Someone wonders if someone bought key lime pie, and suggests that someone go get it out of the freezer.
10:08 PM - Joe's famous key lime pie remains in the freezer.
10:23 PM - Someone says maybe we should go to South Beach. After all, there will be fireworks.
10:45 PM - We pile into the car and leave for South Beach.
11:22 PM - We find a parking spot.
11:31 PM - Mom has to use the bathroom.
11:42 PM - We make our annual pilgrimage to the the Loews Hotel bathroom.
11:53 PM - We fight our way through the crowd of drunk twenty-somethings in $2,000 dresses and finally make it out to the beach.
12:00 PM - Fireworks start going off. My parents start making out.
12:13 PM - Fireworks end. Whoever is currently dating someone calls the person they're currently dating. As far as I can remember, I have never had to make this call.
12:55 AM - We go to bed.
12:56 AM - Joe Stone Crabs's famous key lime pie remains in the freezer.
4:17 AM - Dad wakes up and eats the key lime pie.