Unicorns, Emus, and Auld Lang Syne
Last night marked at least the thirtieth consecutive time that we rang in the New Year with our dear friends, Mark and Mary. Last night caused us to reminisce a bit about all of the times that we have ushered in the New Year with each other, and how much of life we have shared through the experience. The first time happened just by chance. Arnie and Mark worked together and had become fast friends; Mary and I hit it off immediately. We had decided to invite several couples over to our little “shotgun house” for New Year’s Eve, and Mark and Mary joined in the fun. From there, the rest is history.
Throughout the past thirty-or-so years, we have shared so much of life together. The birth of our first two children, followed by the exciting news that they were expecting twins. Next was the birth of our third son. When we first started celebrating New Year’s Eve with each other, our parents would watch the children so that we could spend some adult time ringing in the New Year, but as time went on our kids would start to join in the festivities. There were many years spent with our families playing games, banging pots and pans, and eating and laughing until our sides hurt.
One memorable evening was the year that we rang in the brand new millennium – Y2K. None of us really knew what to expect. Would all of the infrastructure in our country suddenly collapse due to a computer glitch? Should we store extra water, candles and nonperishable items just in case? As the clock rang midnight, we followed our usual tradition and hurried outside, banging pots and pans and lighting bottle rockets in the night air. Suddenly I had the distinct feeling that we were being watched. I nervously glanced around, only to realize that an emu had escaped from the farm up the street and was strolling by to catch the festivities. Not your typical New Year’s Eve sight for sure!!
A key part of our New Year’s celebrations is the time-honored tradition of passing a brass unicorn back and forth. What started off as a joke has become one of our favorite things to anticipate annually. The unicorn has been dressed in My Little Pony clothing, has appeared in vacation photographs, and has been decorated to look like wind chimes – you name it. Whichever couple happens to have the little guy each New Year’s Eve spends the next 365 days trying to think of a new and unique way to return him the following year.
As time has marched on, the four of us have experienced both joy and pain in life. We have watched all of our children graduate from high school and go on to attend college or join the work force. We have shared in weddings. A few years ago, Mark experienced fourth stage cancer and went through an incredibly difficult year of treatment and was able to emerge cancer-free. We have shared the experiences of what it means to have aging parents, and even in the loss of some of our parents. We continue to face the happiness as well as the struggle of life together, and each year marks another opportunity to celebrate the past as well as anticipate the future.
My husband and I are blessed with the friendships of some of the dearest people on earth. I pray that we never take them for granted and am determined to make every effort to nurture those relationships during this New Year.