A New Year's Eve to cherish

"So," my co-worker Nancy said as I was packing up at the end of my editing shift yesterday, "what are your plans for New Year's Eve?"

"Well," I said with a deliberate pause, "I'm having dinner tonight with five women."

She looked up from her computer monitor and smiled. "I'm not even going to ask."

"Oh, it's not what you think," I replied.


Clockwise from left: George, Lori, Jamie, Teresa, Kyndall, Simone

Plan A was going to be just Lori and me. Walk to a casual place in the neighborhood for dinner, then go see a movie.

Plan A became Plan B when our neighbor Teresa invited us to her place for dinner. And be sure to bring Jamie and Simone and Kyndall, too, she said.

Fonda Rosa



Jamie, our daughter-in-law, had come down to Portland to visit for the day and go out dancing later with a couple of friends. Simone, our daughter, and Kyndall, her partner, were due back in Portland in the early evening after a three-day visit to Kyndall's mom and stepdad in eastern Washington.

Plan B became Plan C when Teresa decided she didn't want to cook and suggested dinner out instead. The three of us would go see a movie while the girls went their separate ways to celebrate.

Well, sure. Why not? And that's how I wound up the only guy at a table for six at Fonda Rosa, a Mexican restaurant in Northeast Portland. And I'm telling you, it was one of the most fun and meaningful New Year's Eves I've ever experienced. A night I will cherish.

Usually, we're celebrating with our youngest, Jordan, because Dec. 31 is his birthday. That was impossible this year, though, with him recently deployed to Afghanistan. But Jamie stepped bravely into the void. We all ordered shots of Jack Daniel's ("Because that's what Jordan would want us to drink," Jamie said) and raised a glass while Jamie toasted her husband in a short video (thanks, iPhone) that she plans to email to Jordan.

We had a great dinner and wonderful conversation, then came back home before taking the 10-minute walk to the mall to see "The Descendants," the new movie starring George Clooney. It was a solid 3-star film, with a breakout performance by Shailene Woodley as Clooney's 17-year-old daughter.

We made it back home with about 15 minutes to spare before midnight. Turned on the tube (wait, there are no "tubes" anymore, are there?) and watched Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark announce the dropping of the ball in Times Square. Smooched and conked out shortly after.

Jordan turned 24 yesterday. And while it was sobering to realize he's now literally halfway around the world, it gave me great pleasure to be with his wife, my wife, our daughter, her partner and our favorite neighbor. Heckuva of a way to end 2011 and transition into the new year.

Restaurant photograph: yelp.com

Tweet me @georgerede



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