This year I enjoyed the kind of New Years celebration I hadn’t experienced since before Aidan was born. While my New Year’s Eves have been meaningful since I became a mom, they have rarely been boisterous or wild, and it felt great to drink, dance and dissolve into fits of laughter as much as I did on New Year’s Eve.

We got a babysitter and went to a small party at our friend Danielle’s house in Santa Monica (that happens to be the kind of Spanish villa I dream about). It promised to be a mellow evening surrounded by my sister, Katya, and her best friends from high school and college, who have also become close friends of ours. I imagined quiet conversation while sipping from elegant flutes of champagne.

Instead bourbon and red wine were flowing.

And our friend Jenni’s boyfriend, Guy, a talented amateur chef from the South, announced every half hour or so that a dish was ready—grilled octopus, shrimp and grits, thick steaks—and we’d gather ‘round to grab plates and head into the dining room.

And Danielle was blasting one of those radio stations I never knew existed, the kind you dial up with your TV remote and end up with an unlikely playlist from the decade of your choice. We went with the 80s and swayed our hips to the unlikely likes of Madonna, George Michael and Christopher Cross.

The combination of these ingredients and just the right mix of people led to a perfect evening.

Between courses, we watched massive slabs of butter melt in Guy’s pan, made lists of resolutions and, when a great (or too cheesy to ignore) song came on, we raced into the living room to shake our groove thangs. Jenni and I twirled each other around to Careless Whisper and Harlan and I slow-danced to Arthur’s Theme, a guilty pleasure when I was 15 that’s as earnest as ever and now an ironic masterpiece, to which I can still belt out all the words.

At midnight we gathered around the flat screen to watch the ball drop, counted down loudly and doled out the requisite hugs and kisses.

Afterwards, we burned resolutions in the fire. Did a single tequila shot (that I regretted sorely the next day). Ate chocolate with our champagne.

Earlier that night, before heading out, I wanted to do a ritual to mark the new year with Aidan. We lit candles on the coffee table in the living room at my parents’ house and Harlan, Katya, Aidan and I wrote our wishes for the year: what we hoped to let go of, what we hoped to invite in and what we were most grateful for. We read them aloud and burned them in the fireplace.

Aidan focused on gratitude. The first page of his list is below. In addition to Harlan and me, love and kindness, he wrote, “Gus (my mom’s dog), Grandma, Grandpa, Katya,” and, most surprisingly, “warmth.” Originally he’d said, “Sun,” then he changed it to, “Heat,” and finally he settled on, “Warmth,” which I loved.

I was touched and impressed by Katya’s resolution to let go of blaming her ex-husband for everything wrong with her life. And, as always, I was moved by Harlan’s thoughtfulness and love for our family.

As for me, I wrote a long, rambling gratitude list that ended with the week in the Bahamas that we would begin the next day. I promised to do my best to let go of sadness, jealousy and anger and a tendency to compare myself to other people.

My resolutions went up in flames, so I don’t remember them all, but I do know they were few and I spoke them as affirmations.

I am finishing my book and getting all my other writing projects off the backburners.

I am buying myself only beautiful things that I love.

I am treating my family with greater kindness, softness and love.

For Christmas, my sister got my mom, my dad and me “energy-cleansing” sessions with a reiki master. When the beautiful Nicoline and I spoke before my session, after I’d spoken to her about my desire to be kinder and softer with the people I love, she said she wanted to help me get back to myself, my true self. I think she nailed it.

Let’s see if 2013 can be about getting back to my true self.

Aidan's gratitude list

Aidan’s gratitude list

Alex, Jenni and Katya

Alex, Jenni and Katya

Our New Year's card

Our New Year’s card

LA sunset

LA sunset