First Night

Last New Year’s Eve, I was still recovering from the flu, but I had this idea that I wanted to take the kids to downtown Raleigh for First Night, which is when they have a countdown and fireworks at both 7 p.m. (for the little kids) and another one at midnight (for the regular people, I guess – I predict I’ll never be there for the midnight event). My brother came with me, and we had a good time, despite me still feeling pretty terrible.

This year, we decided to do it again, but my brother is back in Charlotte, so it was just me and Chris and the kids. Since Chris had to work on New Year’s Eve, we were a little late getting downtown, but we made it.

We got there around 6:40 p.m., and somehow managed to navigate through the crowd and find my cousin Cat – which was no easy feat, since she’s only 5’1″, so she’s fairly easy to lose in a crowd. Fortunately, her husband Tony is taller, and I spotted him first. My girls visited with their cousins (well, Catie did, anyway – Lucy was overwhelmed by the crowd and wanted someone to carry her the whole time), and Tony’s sister was there with her dog, who was UNBELIEVABLY well-behaved (the dog, I mean, not Diana), given the crowd and the noise and all the little kids pestering him.

Note the giant acorn suspended from a crane in the background. Raleigh is the “City of Oaks,” so they drop an acorn instead of a ball. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s weird. Whatever.

It was a little chaotic, but fortunately it wasn’t long until the countdown and fireworks show. Catie has seen fireworks lots of times, but Lucy is usually asleep by the time they happen, and she obviously didn’t remember them from a full year ago, so she was mesmerized.

After the fireworks show ended, we navigated through the mobs of people and somehow managed to track down my aunt and uncle (Cat’s parents), who had gone off to wander around on their own. We basically said hi, gave hugs & kisses, then made our way back to the car.

I had been planning to spend more time downtown to let the kids run around and explore (First Night is set up a little like a carnival with food stands and games and things), but it just didn’t work out that way, since we got there so late. Which was fine with me, since most of the stuff there is kind of expensive (last year, I ended up dropping $15 on a New Year’s bell for Lucy and a light-saber type toy for Catie), and this way, we basically were able to go for free.

But the girls didn’t want to go home so soon, and Chris pointed out that we were awfully close to the flagship Krispy Kreme store (oh, that magical place where the “Hot Donuts Now” light is always on), so maybe a little side trip might be fun.

Safe to say, we were not the only people in the world who had that same idea. The crowd at Krispy Kreme was pretty big. And while we were waiting in line, we saw… my cousin and her family. No pre-planning, just happened that we both decided on our way home to stop for donuts. Great minds, clearly.

Later, we got home, got the kids bathed and in bed, watched a little TV, snuggled up in bed, and watched Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin do the countdown on CNN.

So, basically: fireworks, warm fresh donuts, and snuggled up in my bed with my favorite guy.

(One of the very rare occasions you’ll see a picture of me with no make-up on. Thank you, Instagram filters.)

I could not have asked for a better New Year’s Eve.

Happy 2014, everybody.

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