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?

Well-Deserved?

As most of my readers know, our family has been struggling with financial troubles over the past few years.  Needless to say, we were a little concerned that we wouldn’t  even be able to afford Christmas presents for our boys this year.  In addition, as the holidays approached, we were in danger of having our power turned off.

Then the week before Christmas we had 3 pleasant surprises.  First, we received a check from a class action lawsuit – just enough to pay our utility bill.  Next I found out I had won an Amex gift card in an online giveaway.  Finally, Art’s parents sent us a Walmart giftcard to cover Christmas food and beverages.  Now we were set for groceries, gas and a few Christmas presents.

Art and I agreed not to buy each other presents.  We got excited about picking out a few gifts we thought the boys would really appreciate – they both got electric blankets and two other small gifts.  I found some special deals on gift cards and baked furiously so we would have gifts for our parents.  Finally, on Christmas Eve night, we looked happily at the tiny pile of gifts under the tree and breathed sighs of relief.

Christmas morning went as expected – everyone was pleasantly surprised by what they received.  The boys had picked out some very thoughtful gifts for us as well.  That afternoon, Art’s parents came over for dinner, which in our house is cold cuts, cheese, rolls, crackers, and various snacky items.

Afterwards, we had the second round of present-opening.  I did not expect that Art and I would have any presents to open as Art’s parents had been helping us out financially for the past few months and we all were in agreement that it was most important for Bud and Boo to have a good Christmas. But as the gifts were distributed, everyone had one box to open.  I was directed to open mine last.

Imagine my shock when on ripping open the paper I saw a netbook!  I was completely tongue-tied.  It took me a minute just to be able to blurt out an intelligible “thank you” to my in-laws.  Bobbie said later she could tell by the look on my face it was a complete surprise.  It turned out when Art found out his parents were insistent on buying us presents, he told them not to buy him anything but a bottle of Jack and to take the rest of the money they would have spent on him to buy me a really nice gift.  My old computer is a desktop in the middle of the family room.  I share this space with both boys and their computers, plus their friends and the occasional dog. Art knew I needed a computer I could move around with me; taking it into the bedroom or to the library so I could be alone with my thoughts and  work on my blog.

After the in-laws left, I lost it.  I loved the gift, but I couldn’t justify it in my head.  I didn’t deserve all that sacrifice.  I told Art how I was feeling and he told me he and his parents wanted to give me the computer.  I realized that it wasn’t about whether or not I thought I deserved the gift.  It was about the gift freely given.  I was reminded that none of us deserve salvation either – yet there it is – freely given, as it says in Romans 3:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Just as I try to daily honor God’s gift in the way I live, I will also try to honor my Christmas gift by using it to the best of my abilities to write a successful blog.

As always, thank you for being part of the journey.

Day of Recovery

No post today as I am taking a much needed day to rest and recuperate from all the festivities.  Look for my post on Friday, December 30th which will be about our family’s New Year’s traditions.

Merry Day after Christmas!!