Starting off the New Year different; opening up to a new way of celebrating

Graphic+by+Gabby+Sahm

Graphic by Gabby Sahm

By Gabby Sahm

Staff Writer

@gabbysahm

 

The time ticked by, almost seeming to slow down as we got to the final countdown. The room was filled with numerous families, most of which I had just met hours ago, but they all engulfed me in hugs and cheers once the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. I had never experienced a New Year like this, and now I never want to spend another one any other way.

 

I decided to change up how I celebrated my New Year’s Eve this year. I usually stay at home with my brother while we watch movies and ride out the end of the year eating junk food. I wanted to start this new year differently though, so I decided to spend it with my friend and her family at her aunt’s house.

 

Coppell High School senior Gabriela Santana Prieto is of Puerto Rican descent and New Year’s Eve is a big celebration for her family. They believe that if you start the new year with family, then it will end with family so they surround themselves with loved ones. They make dinner, sing and dance all the way into the new year – it was such a fun experience.

 

Since I had never been around that before, I was slightly scared at first. I cannot sing or dance, so I was hoping they would not expect me to do the same. Also, most of them spoke Spanish, which even though I took three years of Spanish, I still could not understand very well. All this added together made for what I thought was going to be a very intimidating start to the night.

 

I am glad I was proven wrong.

 

Everyone embraced me with open arms, literally, and joked around with me while I only got bits and pieces of what they said in Spanish. It was fun to meet everyone, and soak in all the happiness and love that was radiating through the home.

 

As the hours went by, I spent most of my time hanging out with the younger children upstairs, while also hanging out with some of the people closer to my age. Once it became 10 minutes until midnight, everyone started getting stressed.

 

Cups full of 12 grapes were passed out to everyone as they gather in the living room and kitchen. Once the new year came you were supposed to eat the 12 grapes, each of which represent the 12 months of the new year, in 12 seconds, which I was not able to do. I still ate them though, and went around and gave everyone a hug, wishing everyone a “Happy New Year!”
It was eye opening to see how different people celebrate the holidays and I now know what I have been missing this whole time. I hope that next year I can spend my new year surrounded by the same family values and joy I experienced this year.