That was the question this morning when we awoke from our New Year's Eve festivities at Bryan's in Boston and were merely tired and hungry, maybe a little sluggish, but not hungover. We -- Bryan, LM, Casey and me -- even put on clothes, coats, hats and boots to go out for brunch, a big change from our previous history of barely moving from a darkened living room, where whatever tolerable New Year's Day marathon on TV tended to get us through the day.
The party involved our usual traditions of recent years: shots every hour, beginning at 3 p.m., to celebrate the new year in some country to the east of us; a feast fitting the yearly theme, a country of Bryan's choosing in previous years, but chef's choice -- Casey's -- this year; a steady parade of people coming early (usually with children) and late (arriving in the final hour of the old year); and a bedtime closer to midnight on the West Coast than the East.
One theory was that the food was so good this year -- Italian being a staple of Casey's -- that everyone kept eating and sustaining themselves for the long haul of imbibing. A more likely cause was the fact that we paced ourselves much better. The traditional 8 p.m. shot of water, which serves as a check on our intake and a nod to Greenland's melting glaciers (it's a hard time zone in which to find land to ring in the new year), was not needed as a means to curb our drinking in the way it has in years past. I believe I had only one beer between shots before reaching 8 p.m. And finally, after ringing in 2010 (that's TwentyTen; trying to get into the habit of saying it that way), we sipped our glasses of champagne and then put them down for good. No refills, no last glasses of wine, no last beer for the night. The guests began clearing out and were all gone by 1 o'clock (in previous years, we've still been kicking them out near 3), and by the time the kitchen was cleaned up, water ingested and teeth brushed, our heads hit the pillows just as Los Angeles was breaking into "Auld Lang Syne."
Bryan's younger brother and his wife, who have always lived nearby, even went home to their own bed for the first time rather than crashing in the living room, where they'd stay through New Year's Day as we all recovered. More than just a new year dawned today; we entered a new era as well.