Well, here it is, another year staring us in the face. A new chapter, a fresh page to write on in the book of life.

Now, I don't want to ruin anyone's new year or the outlook for a bright future by bringing up the past, but how many of us really wore out the last page of 1988?Which one of you out there celebrated your socks off by jitterbugging to a big band, throwing confetti, blowing whistles and eating too much chip dip?

I dare say not as many as we think.

For the first 16 years of my life, my parents filled my head with the notion that as soon as I was old enough, I would be able to greet the new year with all of its festive parties and neighborhood bashes. Or even better than that, according to my mother, by sitting in front of a glowing fireplace - in a sunken living room with bearskin rugs and comfortable couches - with "the one I love," talking, laughing, smooching and whatever.

I am now 32.

I have yet to see any of this, except perhaps on New Year's Eve of 1973. I was a senior in high school and our church group decided to hold a dance.

We used dance cards so that, according to the leaders, everyone could have at least two or three dances. I think I had that many, but I know for a fact I didn't dance in the new year. I was asked to put out punch and cookies and by the time the big apple dropped, I was up to my elbows in red dye No. 5.

Do you know what it's like watching people dance and kiss while trying to sing "Auld Lang Syne?" And if I have to hear "Color My World" or "I Left My Love in Avalon" one more time, I can't tell you what I may do.

Needless to say, the New Year's Eve celebrations that fill my memories are the ones where I couldn't stay awake long enough to see the clock strike midnight.

There have been a few exceptions and I hold them close to my heart.

I remember the year my roommate and I decided not to get out of our pajamas for two days. We rented all the "Rocky" movies we could, filled our refrigerator with far too many sodas and snacks, and sat in front of the TV. We fell asleep after "Rocky," woke up for part of "Rocky II," said "Happy New Year" at midnight, put "Rocky III" in the VCR and promptly fell asleep.

Pretty romantic, don't you think?

Mind you, being single has its benefits most of the time. But some of us don't consider New Year's Eve one of them - unless banging pots and pans together to let the neighborhood know you're celebrating can be called a benefit.

I hear tell that married folk may have the same problem. My sister said, "Oh, I used to celebrate when I was single, but since I've been married, no way. Now I sit up with the children and he goes to bed. Oh, he may roll over, give me a kiss, say `Happy New Year,' but that's it."

Just for once I would like to greet the new year the way my parents said I would. Just once I would like to do something Dec. 31 other than watch the Orange Bowl Parade.

I have a theory - our parents just tell us some of this stuff to make us think they had a good time when they were younger. And when we see the millions of people crowding through Central Park and Time Square, we are really seeing reruns of some Cecil B. DeMille epoch.

No, by golly, 1989 is going to be different. I resolve that come Dec. 31, 1989, I will have a fancy new dress, I will dance, I will party, I will sing "Auld Lang Syne," while throwing minute pieces of computer paper throughout the hall. I will dogear and crumple my last page of '89 like a paperback novel.

I will do all this so that if and when I have children, I can tell them how much fun it is to welcome the new year in, and that if they wait just a few more years they will be able to experience all the joys and excitement I did when I was their age.