New Year’s Eve will be here in just a few days, with restaurants up and down the coast laying out their fabulous wines and most decadent dishes and all kinds of fanfare to mark the minutes leading up to midnight.
While all of that sounds fabulous to a lot of people, Bill and I are looking forward to different traditions in the comfort of our own home, with family and friends close by. One reason is the way we perceive this particular holiday – as a time to be thankful for the good things that have happened this year and reflect on the not-so-good things we’ve endured.
Gratitude and Reflection Go Hand-in-Hand
Year after year I come back to the phrase: “it’s either a lesson, or a blessing,” as a means for reconciling struggles. In past years those lessons have been difficult – especially when Bill was diagnosed with cancer (he’s much better now). It instantly changed our life – making us extremely grateful for every moment we have together, and also making us realize that a lot of little things that used to bother us don’t matter much anymore. We’re just happy to be healthy, together, and optimistic about the year to come.
This spirit of reflection sets the stage for our small group gatherings. Everyone brings their favorite dish and, depending on where we are, we play pool, ping pong, charades or other games. It’s not completely sleepy – we still have our noisemakers and crazy glasses and party hats, and we always make sure we either stay up or get up to acknowledge the midnight changeover to the new year.
I feel like the year just doesn’t quite come to an end without it. Even if you have to set the alarm for 11:55, do it! It’s a magical moment! When that clock strikes twelve, we have an automatic feeling: “bring it on” After all the hugs, we cheer everyone with glasses of champagne or your beverage of choice (the kids love having juice in a fancy glass!), and wish all our friends and family the best health and happiness in the upcoming year.
This tradition is patterned after my childhood celebrations. My mom always made a nice shrimp dish on New Year’s Eve, and I don’t recall her making it any other days. It was just something special, befitting the holiday. Over the years I’ve seen friends likewise preparing a very special dinner at home (steak and lobster come immediately to mind)! Or doing a hybrid celebration, having a nice dinner out but getting home early enough to relax and think through resolutions as the big changeover approaches.
This year, I plan to use a special recipe for Prime Rib: duckinapot.com/meat/prime-rib-using-math/ It involves math! Ha, ha! But it sounds super easy and super delicious. Buffalo chicken cheese dip is a staple for snacking all night. This recipe can be made in a crock pot! www.franksredhot.com/en-us/recipes/franks-slow-cooker-buffalo-chicken-dip (Don’t worry, calories don’t count on New Year’s Eve).
Extend the Joy – With a Good Luck Meal and Smart Resolutions
For us, New Year’s Day is all about relaxation. We always have pork and sauerkraut, but never chicken, since our mom always told me that eating it on January 1 meant you were “scratching backwards.” She also told us to never do laundry that day because we’d be washing away good fortune.
And then there are the New Year’s Resolutions. Some people think they’re a bad idea and others rely on them. I personally think it’s always good to have a goal, whether you call it a resolution or not. My advice is to only pick one or two though. This is something I learned from all the seminars and conventions I have attended throughout my career. You walk away with 10 fantastic ideas and try to do all 10 and end up not accomplishing any. But if you just pick one or two good resolutions you’re much more likely to achieve them. It’s not always easy, but it will be worth it. Remember that. And be gentle on yourself and give yourself some grace along the way.
I also expect people will find unique ways to celebrate in a quiet way in Sussex County in particular. A long New Year’s Day walk on the beach, with vast, beautiful views to inspire happy thoughts. Or a long walk or bike ride through Cape Henlopen State Park to experience nature at its finest. Or perhaps a stroll or vigorous walk along the Rehoboth or Bethany Boardwalks, where you can enjoy our quaint towns and the distant blue horizon as well.
However you choose to celebrate the New Year’s holiday, I hope you’ll be safe and kind. Reflect on the past year and what you can do better in the year ahead. And best of luck to all of you in the upcoming year. Lord knows we could all use it in 2022!