Alex Mitchell sighed and looked around. All the old gang were here, just the way they had been that New Year’s Eve so many years ago. Older yes; many white haired, some bald or balding; not as slender and agile, but still the same group as had gathered here forty five years ago. He smiled contentedly, and sipped his drink. Nancy looked over and smiled, too, lifted her glass and glanced around at the people, then took a sip. Yes, she understood how he was feeling; all of them together again to celebrate yet another new year.
AS he looked around, he named them off in his mind. There were Jeff and Grace Winston, Rob and Sally Wright, Tony and Sophia Greco, Hiroshi and Yoshiko Oshita, Tom and Gwyneth Jones, Isaac and Becky Greenburg and Ian and Maggie MacGregor. The gang that first got together in grade ten, back in 1969 plus Hiroshi and Yoshiko. His musing was interrupted by Tom Jones and Yoshiko.
“Lex, I have been trying to convince Yoshi here that we really did dress the gargoyles on the roof of Parkhurst Hall in the Dean’s and President’s robes. She says it’s impossible, they are too high to get up to. Tell her we did, ok?”
Alex laughed and said “Yup, we did, and now when I think about it I agree, they are too high. But in those days, we would try anything. Boy it was hard to do! We only had a quarter-moon to give us light, and the ladder was at its full extension; getting the robes and stuff up there was an adventure. Then we had to cut and tie them in place. We were considerate enough to take old robes, since we knew we’d have to cut them. There were several times when I thought I was going to fall, trying to reach around the gargoyle while Tom here was just below me handing stuff up. They looked great when we were done, though! We had to pay almost all of our allowances to the Dean and President for the rest of that year to replace the robes. It wasn’t fair because they were old ones, but it would have been a lot more if we’d taken the good ones, which were handier.” Laughing, he shook his head. “We decided after that to think about the cost in case we were caught, before we pulled any other stunts.”
Yoshiko was laughing and shaking her head. “Hiroshi has been telling me some of the things you did, but I didn’t really believe him; though I was part of the gang after I came to live here. I always managed to keep on the sidelines when you nuts went off on one of your pranks.”
By this time everyone was gathered around the fireplace, getting comfortable. For a moment there was silence as they all gazed at the flames. Then Jeff Wilson said “Remember the Christmas when we had the big power outage? We’d been out carol singing, and had just got back, dying for some hot chocolate and cookies, when bam! the lights went out.”
Becky Greenburg laughed and said “oh, yes, I remember the mad scramble finding candles and flashlights, everyone running around with lighters and matches. It’s a wonder we didn’t set something on fire. Fortunately, the fire was still going in the fireplace, so we were able to use it to heat up some stew and make the hot chocolate. We spent the rest of the night singing carols and telling ghost tales”
“Yes, that was a fun night. My favourite, though, was when our class at university decided to raise money for special equipment for Sick Kids’ Hospital. The majority decided to make candies and cookies, and our girls got together and made that whacking great pile of stuff! They made three times more than all the rest put together.” Ian MacDonald chuckled.
“True, Ian,” Gwyneth said, “and you bought up half of it!”
Ian laughed. “Yup, I always did have a sweet tooth.”
“My favourite time was when we went to the orphanage and helped the kids make decorations. Some of those kids showed real talent. The angels Annie and Laura made were beautiful, and it was all done with scrap materials.”
“Yeah, the kids enjoyed it, too.” Maggie MacDonald smiled, remembering all the smiles and giggles.
”I think, overall, it’s the winter hikes and cross country ski trips that I remember best.” Tony Greco said.
“Me too,” his wife Sophia exclaimed, “The silence, the sparkling snow, and the surprises when a squirrel, or some other little creature suddenly appeared and then skittered away. And the Blue Jays or Cardinals flitting around, all so bright and colourful against the snow, it was a magical time.”
Nancy smiled and sighed. “Yes, I loved those trips. No silly boys getting into trouble, just our group of friends, together enjoying the beauty and peace of nature. I loved all the things we did, all the Christmas decorations and parties and concerts, the birthday bashes, the trips to the lake for swimming, boating and boat races. It was all so wonderful and perfect, even when the guys were in trouble.”
“We came to it late,” Hiroshi Oshita said, “but I never had as much fun as I did after joining the ditzy dozen!” Yoshiko giggled and agreed. “I was very shocked at first, but it has been wonderful to have all of you as friends.”
Nancy looked at the clock on the mantle. “Time to fill up the champagne glasses, everyone,” she was interrupted by the clock chiming out the first notes of midnight. Alex, Tony and Ian quickly passed out glasses and filled them. They all stood, raised them high, and chorused “To the Ditzy Dozen plus – a happy and fun filled new year with health and happiness to all,” just as the clock rang the last note, and sounds of cheering, bells and fireworks rose outside.