Surprise, Reminiscence and Auld Lang Syne
“Your wind chimes are going crazy!” I commented to my friend Mary as we sat in the sunroom, just beginning our annual New Year’s Eve gathering. “I was thinking the same thing,” she commented, “But I took them down when the weather got colder.” The clanging got louder, and soon the door opened with shouts of “Happy New Year!” The four of us turned to look out the door as our kids and grandchildren came bursting through. (Two of our sons’ families were not in town, but they were on tablets on Facetime along with the others.)
A true surprise is a rare gem. Usually, you have at least an inkling that something is in the works; a hint that something is up. But THIS surprise, on what was our 40th celebration of ringing in the New Year together, was 100% surprise and delight for all four of us. Our adult children had gotten together throughout the year and planned to experience the evening along with Mark, Mary, Arnie and myself.
When our kids were little, we rang in the new year as families. The kids played together all evening, we ate until we were stuffed, and watched the countdown excitedly. We ran outside and shouted Happy New Year to the entire neighborhood and banged pots and pans into the nighttime air. The one we all remember the most vividly was the New Year’s Eve that rang in the new millennium; while we were shouting, banging, and blowing horns, an emu (from the farm up the road) quietly strolled through the yard as if bored.
Now that our children are grown, the four of us celebrate together, taking turns hosting. Of the 40 years that we have been doing this, only one time did we have to celebrate a few days later due to illness. This is a sacred tradition to both of our families, and we do everything we can to honor this time-honored celebration.
Woven into the yearly fun is the “trading of the unicorn.” Forty years ago, Mary had been given a brass unicorn as an exchange gift at a party we both attended. Upon dropping her at her house, she leaned over and asked me if I happened to collect unicorns. I assured her that I did not, and she smirked as she left it on my car seat. “You do now!” she giggled and closed the door. From that moment on, the unicorn has been passed back and forth between our families.
One year it was dressed in My Little Pony finery. Another year, the unicorn hung from our porch as a wind chime. The little guy has been in unicorn jail and has traveled for one year and put together a photo album of his adventures. He has been made into a table centerpiece, has been disguised as an Appaloosa horse, and has been covered in tiny flashing lights. This year was no different; this year the unicorn was wearing a fluffy stuffed animal costume. We love him as if he were family.
After the kids and grandchildren left the house on New Year’s Eve, the four of us sat and reflected upon the wonderful memories that we have made together. We spoke of our gratitude for children who took the initiative to spend time with us in a time-honored tradition. We teared up as we recalled the many years of gathering as each year rang in with hope and expectancy. And we clinked glasses as we welcomed in 2024.
Wishing you a bright and fulfilling year ahead.