Since my husband and I have never been big party fans, we came up with our own New Year’s Eve celebration many years ago. A few weeks before the New Year we start planning a gourmet menu that we can cook together. This year we found inspiration in Bon Appetit. We set our kitchen table with family mementos: candlesticks that belonged to my brother; my grandmother’s gold-rimmed place plates and flatware that she brought back from Thailand; bright print napkins that my mom gave us last year when she moved; and a gratitude candle from a former student from Sweden.
We spend several hours together in the kitchen cooking, often debating which pan to use or how to slice the vegetables. He likes them chunky; I like them fine. It’s all part of the ritual. This year we realized we should have read the recipes more carefully before we started since we were missing a few ingredients and tools, but we adapted.
Just before dinner is ready, we change out of our sweats into party attire. As we enjoy our meal, we remember some of the highlights of the year. Then we move to the sofa by the fireplace and review our calendars month by month.
- We see how we spent our days and whether we were with people who matter most in our lives.
- We reminisce about the highs and lows and how we dealt with disappointment and success.
- We talk about what we learned, where we fell short, where we want to try harder, what we’re most proud of and what we want to do more of next year.
In the coming week I will spend some time thinking about the roles in my life and set some goals for each role, a habit I learned from Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People workshop I attended in 1999. For me, the last day of the year is a time to reflect on the past and then commit to the future. I get excited and hopeful—especially this year—imagining the new people I’ll meet, the goals I’ll accomplish and the challenges that will test my inner strength.
I wish you a Happy 2009: May your hopes be fulfilled and your dreams become realities.