New Year’s Traditions

For most people New Year’s Eve is the big night.  In our family, December 31st has always been pretty tame.  We generally just have some snacks and maybe fondue, pop a bottle of champagne for the adults and sparkling cider for the kids, stay up to midnight to watch the ball drop, all yell “Happy New Year” and hug each other, then go to bed.

Our New Year’s Day tradition began during the great Napa flood of 1997.  Art & I were sleeping in, enjoying a day with nothing to do when Michelle called.  “We’re all at Bruce’s Mom’s helping her empty her basement in case the flood gets too close.  We’re hungry and we’re coming to your house in an hour. Don’t worry, we’ll bring the food with us.”

I scrambled to get everyone up and dressed and straighten up the house.  About 11 am, six people showed up with eggs, bacon, champagne and orange juice.  Art and I made some biscuits and gravy and we all had a New Year’s breakfast feast.  Afterwards we pulled some card games out of the closet and sat around talking and playing games until it got dark.

Every year since then we have continued the tradition – every other year at our house – and it is a tradition we all look forward to.  Everyone brings something to share and often people show up in their pajamas. Over the years friends have married and divorced and had children, plus we have added new friends along the way.

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of our annual New Year’s breakfast and seeing everyone together again made me remember all we have to be thankful for.  I am very excited about the possibilities of the new year and I want to thank you all again for being part of the journey!

An apology to my email subscribers who for some reason did not receive a link to last Friday’s post in their email.  Here is the link if you are interested in reading it: Well-Deserved?

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An Open Letter to My Mother-in-Law

As with many of us, my in-laws are coming to visit for the holidays.  Over the years, I had my fair share of clashes with my mother-in-law.  Now that both of my sons have girlfriends, I am starting to appreciate the position of mother-in-law much more.  To that end, I decided to write an open letter to mine. It’s part apology, part thanks, part knowledge sharing.  I hope you can relate 🙂

Dear Bobbie –

First I would like to apologize:

  • For all the times I acted like I knew everything about parenting or marriage – even though you had more than 20 years experience on me.
  • For not appreciating your generosity – in fact, for resenting it.  I saw your gifts to us as your attempt to control our family – and I see now that coercion is not part of your makeup.
  • For not being sympathetic to your frustrations with life, your family, and me.

I would also like to thank you:

  • For the previously mentioned generosity – generosity of time, of spirit, and of love, as well as money and material items.
  • For accepting me as part of your family from day one.
  • For always trying to understand – even when situations and people were outside of your comfort zone.

We didn’t choose each other – but we DO love each other.

And for the rest of you – some things I have learned from being a daughter-in-law for 20+years and a not quite mother-in-law for over a year (all of these suggestions work both ways):

  • Bite your tongue.  Seriously.  Unless she is doing something dangerous, don’t say anything.  She won’t be grateful for your advice.  She’ll resent you.  Let her come to you.  The flip side of this one is: It’s okay to ask her for advice.  She might be able to teach you something new or give you a fresh perspective on life.
  • When you’re in her house, try to abide by her rules.
  • When you talk to your son (or husband), don’t tell him the things you don’t like about her.  It will only drive a wedge between you.

Following these rules won’t guarantee you a good relationship with your in-laws, but it might give you some peace of mind.

Enjoy your holiday!!