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As my title implies, I am not a fan of those New Year’s movies wherein something major happens to every character on that most special night of the year. I’ve had terrible New Year’s Eves and wonderful New Year’s Eves, but I’ve never had a life-changing one. As far as I’m concerned, the best part of “200 Cigarettes” is Martha Plimpton’s character sleeping through her awesomely amazing party thinking she’s a failure, which seems to me somehow more true to life.

However, though not life-changing, my first New Year’s in Boston was a memorable experience involving the requisite dancing and drinking, plus clowns in thong tutus at the now closed ManRay nightclub. Subsequent New Years’ celebrations have been fun, though not as weird (I’ve found I don’t like seeing clown butt, even on a holiday). But since having a kid, things have taken a turn for the sedate. This isn’t because I’m lame enough to want to stay in every year; it’s because I can’t find anyone lame (and trustworthy) enough to want to babysit so I can go party with friends. I may be over the idea of New Year’s as a big, important night, but hey, I still want to have a good time!

One potential solution is First Night Festival of the Arts, a series of mostly family-friendly events that takes place on the 31st from early afternoon through midnight, concluding with fireworks over the Boston Harbor. Boston started the First Night thing in 1976 with some local artists, and it has taken off to become the huge party it is today, drawing about a million visitors and including thousands of artists and performers from local communities and from afar. You buy a button for under $20, and you get admission to a bunch of indoor and outdoor events. This year, they have everything from a poetry slam to ice sculptures to performances by Suzanne Vega and Mavis Staples, not to mention free admission to a bunch of museums, including one of my favorites, The Institute of Contemporary Art. Of course, the one time we tried to take my son there, for some reason he wasn’t at all interested in their exhibit on records and album art. Who knew a preschooler wouldn’t appreciate seeing the life-size Polaroids David Byrne took for a Talking Heads cover?

Anyway, I’ve been considering attending this for a couple of years now, but our experience at the ICA illustrates the problem: Kids are impossible to take anywhere for any length of time until they’re over the age of 5. This is my theory, at least. So, for this year it’s likely I’ll be at home at midnight again. At least it’ll beat the New Year’s my husband and I were sick on the couch, slurping chicken soup and watching “The Big Lebowski” and sleeping through midnight.

Happy New Year! Hope y’all have something fun to do! And stay awake for your party, if you’re having one, just in case.

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