The new year comes but once a year and, by doing so, everyone has a chance to usher it in however they see fit.
Growing up, I was fortunate to have parents who didn't shove me off to a baby sitter or another family member Dec. 31 and go out to party with friends.
When I was in grade school and high school, my parents, another family and I would celebrate the last day of the year and the first day of the new year by going out for dinner.
What a great way to send out the old and bring in the new.
It was through my friendship with the other couple's son our parents became friends. We were classmates from grade school through high school. We were in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts together. We would go to New York Giants games at the Meadowlands together, thanks to his dad having season tickets forever.
When the world learned who shot J.R. Ewing on "Dallas," we were together. We'd watch Super Bowl and bowl games together.
We were so close, we fought like brothers.
New Year's Eve was extra special because of family. We would usually squeeze into one car and drive no less than about 45 minutes to a favorite restaurant for dinner. That was when most cars had front and back seats that went from door to door and six people could sit three in the front and three in the back.
Moms would be in the back and dads would sit up front ... driver and shotgun.
Conversation revolved around the news of the day, politics, TV, music, how the kids were doing in school, scouting, what we were going to have for dinner that night and sports.

New Year's Eve was often a time when our parents would act a little more silly than usual. There were times the waitresses would play right along with the buffoonery.
Sometimes, it seemed like our table was the hired entertainment for those sitting at tables nearby.
Prime rib was often the special of the evening and ordered by the cavemen at the table. Baked potato and veggies usually came with it, as did a salad.
Dessert was often something chocolatey with loads of ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and sprinkles stacked so high it wobbled when the waitress put it down on the table. There was more than one brought to the table to have with coffee.
The ride home was filled with more and more laughter that would escalate to such high pitches I wouldn't be surprised if we had dogs following us.
I'm also surprised we didn't run off the road a couple of times, considering how much we all were laughing.
Celebrating New Year's Eve has changed through the years. Another family joined the Sitarz-Galvin excursions. Girlfriends came and went. It wasn't the same when more people were added.
When I moved south, I learned of fireworks on New Year's Eve. Shooting off fireworks is now part of our New Year's Eve celebration. My boys and a friend have lit up the night sky over our property Dec. 31/Jan. 1 for many years. We've had a subdued one or two as well.
One thing we don't do is go to sleep New Year's Eve. A new year is something to be welcomed and ushered in with a smile and hope for happiness and prosperity.

Sitarz can be reached at 943-2529 or via email at jsitarz@indexjournal.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.