This Hogmanay, we decided to host a kind of party. "Kind of" because it was more like an open house, we wanted it to be friendly, informal, family friendly and non-committal. So that people could drop in for 10 minutes or 10 hours. As ever, we are very spontaneous with family life plans, and it was extremely short notice. Encouraged by a pre-Christmas get together hosted by our neighbours, and how lovely it was to get to know the people living in our street a bit beyond the 5 minutes between doors, we invited everyone on our street plus a few close friends.
I admit I was nervous. Nervous that everyone would turn up and there wouldn't be enough space for us all. Nervous that nobody would turn up (it has happened to me before that I organised a party and nobody came).
And when we said goodbye to the last people at 2am and finally the children agreed to nod off to dreamland, we realised it was potentially the best idea we've had in years. We had people in the house from 4pm to 2am, but at no point did it get too busy. There were kids having heaps of fun throughout. And then all those wonderful gestures: bubbly for the bells, real turf for the open fire, sparklers for lighting outside, treats for the kids and oh so much food. In fact, we're still surviving on left overs.
There were neighbours I'd never seen before, others whom we know well already, and a lot of merriment and laughter was had, cultural differences explored, and anecdotes shared, commonalities found and plans for future get togethers made. Even those who couldn't make it (all due to health reasons, we live in a street with quite a few elderly people) dropped a note and made a commitment to come along next time.
Nothing world moving, just a sense of belonging and community. I kept wondering why this kind of thing never happened in the various tenement flats I stayed in, where we could have easily had a get together to have fun and potentially solve a few of the communal issues that old tenement housing brings with it. In the tenement flats I lived in much closer proximity to people yet some neighbours wouldn't even give you the time of day when you bumped into them on the stairs. It was lonely at times, a bit depressing actually.
So if I've learned something from our Hogmanay adventure it's that it's easy to come together and have a brilliant time, and that it can make such a difference to how you feel about where you live. And that some wonderful people are living right next to you. All you need to do is open the doors and let them in.
Not quite first footing but definitely the spirit of Hogmanay.
"And there's a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine,
And we'll tak a right guid willie-waught
For auld lang syne!"
Photos taken on our 2nd January outing to Palaceriggs Country Park, and George Square Glasgow