Same procedure as every year, James …
We’ve reached the year’s end and stand, tired and a little apprehensive, at the cusp of the new one ahead.
I decided to share the wonderful “Dinner for One” with you again this year. Every Silvestre, or New Year’s Eve, Germans watch this delicious old British skit, televised for the first time in 1963 in Hamburg, and laugh uproariously as it unfolds. They’ve seen it countless times, but that hardly matters. It just tickles them. Interestingly, it’s hardly known in Great Britain, where it originated, and now only comes to America via the Internet.
When I lived in Northern Germany, we spent each New Year’s Eve with our friends Colin and Marian, walking the four or five blocks from our flat to theirs. He was British; she German, and there was just no way that the New Year could be born in their company without many, many glasses of Champagne. At least two glasses would be toasted and quaffed before 8 p.m., but as the clock chimed the hour Marian would turn the TV on, Colin would fill each of our flute glasses, again, and we’d watch “Dinner for One” with 90-year-old Miss Sophie, her loyal (and amazingly dedicated) butler James, and her four dear old gentleman friends, all of whom had long since passed on to the Great Beyond.
And we’d laugh. Each time Miss Sophie proposed a toast, we’d raise our glasses to her in tandem with James, and by the time the short skit ended, we’d be gasping with laughter and like the butler, more than a little tipsy.
For Colin and Marian, watching the skit every New Year’s Eve was an old tradition. For us, it was new but a tradition we quickly came to love. We looked forward to joining Miss Sophie and James each year, just as we looked forward to celebrating the change with our friends and braving the sub-zero temperatures to bang pots and pans on the balcony at midnight. We added our noise and shouts to the ships blowing their foghorns in the harbor, the cars and trucks laying on horns and all the other people just like us throughout the city, ringing in the New Year with laughter, hope and joy.
We saw the turn of six New Years before we left Germany. During that time, the Berlin Wall fell and East and West Germany reunited. The Cold War ended. Much has changed in the 20 years
since the first time I saw James trip over that tiger rug, yet even without the benefit of a glass of bubbly, it still makes me giggle and before long, laugh out loud.
“Same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?” Well, of course. Happy New Year, everyone.