By LESLIE LINSLEY Citizen Colomnist
As I begin to write the last column of 2012, I realize that I've been contributing to the Key West Citizen every Sunday (with the exception of this summer) for four years. It doesn't seem possible.
New Year's Eve is the time when many of us look back to assess what we've accomplished and what we wish we'd done differently or intend to do in the future. It's an opportunity for a clean slate. While I've written a slew of books and donned a few other hats, it's the essays I write for newspapers that give me the most pleasure. It connects me to whatever community I am writing for and makes me feel intimate with the places and the people who are reading my words.
I still have a month before I can claim Key West "home" for a little while so I've been relying on friends down there to keep me abreast of what's going on. I have to admit everyone seems either under the weather or just plain lazy.
Thomas Livingston wrote a long newsy email that was fun to read in between getting bombarded by emails from every single store whose Web site I've ever been on. I once ordered something from Old Navy and now get an eblast every five minutes.
But Thomas caught me up on what's happening with him and partner George Korn. Aside from being the island computer guru, Tom has become quite a book designer. Over the past two years he's put together a Blurb book of his and George's wedding (took place exactly 6 months ago) with some funny as well as lovely pictures - if you know them, ask to see it. He also did a book of Tony Sarg folk art. George has an impressive collection of Sarg artwork Thomas also created a book of Geroge's former partner, Richard Kemble's artwork that will be shown at the Lucky Street Gallery this February. Check it out now as there are a few pieces already hanging. Carole Fauth had a St. Lucia party, a tradition she started last year and I got word from Thomas that Ed Knight's holiday party on Thompson Island was a lot of fun.
I asked my shopping buddies, Sophie and Patricia, to take me along in spirit as they did their Christmas shopping. I thought they would keep notes and give me the inside scoop on what's hot and what's really fun, interesting, a good deal, and such. But Sophie was under the weather and Pat was entertaining family so you can blame them for a lack of gift ideas around town in my Christmas columns. But have no fear. We'll play catch up when I arrive and I get to check out my favorite haunts like Besame Mucho and Key Accents and The Studios of Key West.
About the Blurb book, this is an excellent way to commemorate your favorite moments, or to sum up your year with a real book. Check it out online. This season I've been to way too many parties but if you are planning a party for New Year's here are some decorating ideas I've gleaned from friends around my island. Last night Joann and Steve (winter Key Westers) threw a party for about twenty, a nice manageable size. The dining table was covered with all sorts of great food and drinks with lots of candlelight everywhere. Lots and lots of candles make any environment celebratory. When I entertain I always switch out the light bulbs in all my lamps by putting in very low wattage bulbs just to add to the candlelight. Fresh flowers are a must and in Key West everyone uses fairy lights no matter what the season so it's always party time.
Another party I attended was a sit-down dinner for ten. Food was served buffet style in the kitchen and taken to the dining room where placecards told us where to sit. In Key West you're probably taking your meal out onto the deck although I hear it's been rather chilly lately. Down the center of the table our hosts had placed miniature Christmas trees made out of ripped newspaper on a skewer in graduated sizes to form the tree. It was a very clever project and one you could make for any occasion. A nail pounded through a piece of wood that serves as the stand could provide the foundation. I intend to try this out someday when I'm in a creative mood. It's a great idea to do a black and white (and some "red" all over) theme.
The point of decorating and entertaining for New Year's Eve is to make it over-the-top special. Your home should feel like a celebration. Even if you plan to spend New Year's Eve alone you can make the evening your very own by getting a good movie, playing your favorite music, planning a favorite meal and popping a bottle of champagne. And whether you dress up to be home with a significant other or surround yourself with good friends, have a happy, healthy, joyful and wonderful New Year.