I don't remember my father being off very often on New Year's Eve. He would usually trade a shift with one of the single firemen to be off on Christmas and pull their New Year's shift.
The stars aligned, though, and he was off. The folks were invited to a party - not even sure who or where, although it had to be reasonably close, because we were left under the tutelage of my older brother who was probably all of 13 or 14 himself.
Most of you of an age will remember being left alone or in charge of siblings at an age unheard of, today. We were probably a lot more innocent back then, but we were also a lot smarter and resourceful, I think. Definitely more street-savvy. We knew to dial the operator in the pre-911 days if there was an emergency, which neighbors would be best to run screaming to if someone cut their hand off... And we knew there would be hell to pay if we screwed up.
The folks left with strict instructions about bed times, what we could eat and drink... All of the typical stuff that they knew would be at least partially disobeyed but they also knew we were basically good kids with a healthy dose of fear of the consequences if we burned the house down or maimed one of our siblings.
So... were we the good little kids we were supposed to be?!? Of course not.
At some point we decided we would make confetti to toss at midnight. Out came the scissors and magazines and newspapers, and we cut little itty-bitty pieces of paper non-stop until we had huge Lucky Market bags full.
At midnight we headed out to the front steps with our bags of confetti and pots and pans and banged our way into I dunno... 1963.
Of course it was cold, foggy, and damp 2 blocks from the Pacific Ocean, and most of that newspaper and magazine stuck to the stairs, to the walls, to the railing... We made a mess. A really big mess.
The folks were home by 1am and we were all sleeping like little angels. They were not amused - nor were they fooled by our angelic acts.
The following morning there was hell to pay. We tried blaming it on kids who came into the neighborhood, anything but admit we did it, ourselves. Of course, when you went outside, the entire mess was confined to the 25 feet of our lot - the lawn, the planter boxes, and those steps... They just weren't buying the story of random vandalism perpetrated by youths from afar.
Nope. We were busted. And punished.
What is on TV every year on New Year's Day that kids loved to watch?!? The Rose Parade, of course! So... while the parade was being broadcast, we were outside picking up every single scrap of paper thrown. Every single scrap of paper. As in... every single scrap of paper. Did I mention every single scrap of paper?!? To say that mom was relentless would be an understatement. Every single scrap of paper.
A perfect learning experience. If you're going to screw up, invent more plausible stories.
Better yet, don't get caught!