01 January 2014

Happy New Year

As I've gotten older, I've really enjoyed New Years more and more. As a kid growing up, my family would always get together with other families and I remember New Years always being so fun with a houseful of friends. Those New Years celebrations were almost always more soul-satisfying than the ones that I ended up spending at a bar in my 20s.

We've been really lucky and established a tradition of getting together with a set of friends every New Years. Each year we get together at someone's house and each couple brings two fancy dinner or dessert dishes, paired with a bottle of wine, and we have a multi-course dinner full of rich food. It's the best way ever to end one year and start another. And we never have to wonder what we are doing in terms of New Year's plans - it's a given that we'll all be getting together and Mr. Sweetie and I look forward to it each year.

Last night we started off with a potato leek soup and salad. Then we moved on to beef tenderloin with a port reduction sauce and sides of brussel sprouts and mushroom bread pudding. And for dessert we had (unpretty) chocolate macarons with an espresso-cinnamon-chocolate ganache filling and bowls of homemade chocolate ice cream and cheesecake ice cream (that ice cream maker I bought for Mr. Sweetie for Christmas is truly the gift that keeps on giving). Sharing a long, leisurely meal with good friends and catching up was really a treat.

My failed, cracked, feet-less chocolate macarons. Cocoa messes everything up - but tastes so good!
I haven't thought very much about New Years resolutions yet. And I haven't done a whole lot of reflection on the past year. But I do know that it was a good year. It was a good year for friends. It was a good year for family. It was a good year for realizing the important role those two pieces play in my life. It was a good year for health. It was a good year for learning new tasks at work and understanding that my growth is up to me, and only me, and requires initiative and hard work - and the ability to take responsibility for my thoughts, words, actions and consequences. 

I've had it easy in life. Sure there were some small financial hiccups when I was growing up and I didn't always get everything that I wanted (or thought I wanted) and had to work hard to get to where I am. But that's not a bad thing. I'm lucky because I still have three out of four grandparents. I have extended family that I keep in touch with and see as often as possible, who are involved in my life and care about me and Mr. Sweetie. I have wonderful in-laws who have adopted me as one of their own. I have a stable job that I also really enjoy. I'm healthy. We have made smart financial decisions and live a comfortable lifestyle. I can count on one hand how many funerals I've ever attended. I can also count on one hand (I think using only one finger, actually) how often I've ever had to go to a hospital. My life is so good, so easy, that I've never said good riddance to a year when it comes to a close. I'm sure, however, there will be a year in my future that I will want to have disappear in the rearview mirror as quickly as possible. And if that happens, I will need to remind myself of this when I need a good dose of perspective:

My friend, the one whose son was diagnosed with leukemia the day before Thanksgiving, posted a new year's status update today that really made me pause. She called 2013 a good year, just one that ended with a few bumps. She was excited about 2014, not to leave 2013 behind, but to keep on keeping on and move forward with enjoying every day. This was a woman who spent the vast majority of December in a hospital room, trying to keep her little boy calm and happy while doctors and nurses poked and prodded him and he underwent some unpleasant treatments. If, through all of that, she can still say it was a good year - then it was a good year. You are alive, you have your family, your friends, and love. The rest is just a bonus in life. 

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