Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

A new year has dawned, and with the coming of a new year, it seems everyone has their hearts set on fresh starts, new beginnings, clean slates. I don't know what it is about a New Year that makes such a difference, after all, every day is a new day, an opportunity to make a fresh start. And yet, we can't help it, we get wrapped up in the mystic power of a brand new year laid out in front of us with all sorts of potential. I'm no different, I always begin the year with goals, plans and expectations; hope, joy and a fresh outlook.

But that's not so bad, is it? Everyone needs a fresh start now and again, so if we choose this turn in the calendar to recenter ourselves, refocus our minds and hearts, then let it be. There's no harm in taking that deep breath at the stroke of midnight and plunging in head first into the new year.

So here we are, 2008. A wide open canvas for all that it will be. Where this year will take me only time will tell, and I'll let it unfold on its own.

For now, however, I'd like to reflect a bit on this past holiday season. Christmas and New Year's Eve passed in a frenzy of food, family, fun and friends, and I've barely taken the time to share any of it with all of you. So I thought I would use this week's Thursday Thirteen to share some of what my holidays were like.

1. I'm not entirely sure why (though I have my suspicions) but to me, this Christmas was probably the best my family has had since my grandmother passed away seven years ago. There was a real sense of family, of love, of togetherness that we've tried to bring back through the years, but for some reason, it was present this year. No doubt my brother's recent experience had something to do with it, but it was more than that. I've refrained from delving too deeply into what it is that has transformed within my brother, because that is his to tell alone, but we'll just say that through a series of "everything happens for a reason" type of events, he's found a bit of himself that was lost a long time ago. And as fate would have it, quite a few members of our family are interconnected in how it all played out, and so we found ourselves this Christmas very grateful, and blessed.

2. I had a lovely time the Sunday before Christmas hanging out with my mother, my "little sister" Lil'K, and my brother (and his dog Diamond). We've made it a new tradition that Lil'K and I help mom with the baking of all the Christmas sweets she makes. Namely, Lil'K and I make one particular cake, while mom makes all the rest. This particular cake is quite "labor intensive", and Lil'K and I take great pleasure in our creation. Something went horribly wrong this year however, and the fact that the cake managed to not collapse in on itself was quite the accomplishment. The ordeal leading to the completion of this cake was rought with fits of giggles and horrified squeals. You sort of had to be there, but it made for a fun afternoon in mom's kitchen. So much so that when I dropped Lil'K off that night, she told me her cheeks hurt from laughing so much. There is no greater feeling.

3. My friend Traveler was "home" from Florida for a few weeks, and we were able to spend some quality time doing what we do best. Attending a Boston Bruins game, with free tickets in a VIP suite she scored through her various connections, sipping martinis while we gossiped about poor wardrobe choices of those surrounding us, and giggling like schoolgirls as we flirted shamelessly with men we had no intention of speaking to after we left that day. We spent another day shopping and basically wasting time while we enjoyed time together in a friendship that thankfully has not really suffered due to the long distance her move to Florida created. If anything, we've just become more creative in how to make our friendship work. Traveler is easily one of my closest friends, and distance hasn't dulled how easily we relate to each other.

4. My family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve. We all gather at my mother's house for dinner, enjoy ridiculous amounts of food (and wine) while we chat about anything and everything. This year midnight came with hardly a notice from us, and all of us filed out and headed off to midnight mass. After mass we regathered at mom's for the annual "exchange of the gifts". The gift exchange in our family has always been a momentous occasion because we open all gifts one-by-one, so that everyone can see what everyone else has received. We also ALL give a gift to every person. We do this not because we have loads of money to spend (we do not), but because in our family, the act of giving is actually a lot more pleasureable than the receiving. You can see the thrill on everyone's faces as their gifts are opened and well received. None of us spend a lot of money, but all of us spend a lot of time thinking of just the right gift.

5. This year, I was particularly excited about several of my gifts, because I'd thrown in a personal touch to quite a few of them. Having discovered photography this year, and the fact that I might actually have an eye for the art, I put together quite a few "photo" gifts for people. Among them was a photograph of a sunset for my uncle, a collage of photos for my cousin M&M from a "foliage" trip we took with her daughter Braniac in the fall, and other elaborate collages I created for a few girlfriends with photos we took at several events through the year. The gift I was most excited to give, however, was the one I created for my brother. Several years ago my uncle created fabulous collages of photos for our family. They included pictures of our childhood, with our grandparents, parents, etc. At the time my brother was possibly too young to appreciate such a gift, so he received a remote control car, or something of the sort. I remember that he made a comment that he wouldn't have minded receiving a collage as well, but it wasn't a big deal. This year, however, I felt that he would trully appreciate a bit of his history in photographs, so I dug out old photos and new, and put a great collage together. I could hardly wait to give it to him. I believe he loved it as much as I had hoped he would.

6. I received many wonderful gifts, meaningful, fun, entertaining, and useful. I would list them all here, but I'm afraid I'd leave something out and offend someone, so we'll just say that I loved each and every gift I received, and was just glad to be thought of by everyone. I really did get some great gifts though! I'll probably mention some in my future posts as I use them.

7. By the time the "gift exchange" was complete it was nearly 4AM. I told you it was a momentous occasion, didn't I? We all gathered our wares, and headed for home.

8. Christmas day is a lazy day for our family. We get up late to recover from the previous evening, and spend the morning (ahem, early afternoon) playing with our gifts. I had a (very) late breakfast and surrounded myself with my booty. A late shower and I was off to join my family at a family friend's house, where a new tradition of Christmas lunch/dinner has been borne the last few years. More food, more wine, more conversation and laughs. I was home by 7PM and curled up on the couch in my pj's, in preparation of the return to work the next morning.

9. The Saturday before New Year's I had my annual Christmas Party at my house. Every year I host a few "girl's nights" at my place. It began with my annual Christmas Party the first year I owned the condo and has now blossomed into a few other's throughout the year, usually for my birthday, and this year, for Halloween as well. Because I am single, and have a fantastic group of female friends from various areas and times in my life, I've chosen to make these parties "ladies only" events. It gives me an opportunity to spend some time with my friends, and for them to get to know each other a bit. And since it's my party, I can be "single" if I want to, and not feel like the only one in the room without a partner. It works out well, I think, because I believe the girls enjoy a night off from family and significant others, to just be girls. We eat, we drink, we chat, we play games, and all sorts of hilarity ensues. This year was no different, we had a fabulous time. I might have had a bit too much to drink, but I'll never tell.

10. Making my party a bit more special this year was the fact that my cousin PM and her family had arrived from California earlier that day, and she was able to come to one of my parties for the first time since I've been hosting them. I miss PM tremendously, and always enjoy spending time with her, so it was a treat to have her there with my other friends. Her sister M&M and I have become extremely close over the last few years, so it was wonderful to have both of them there, now that we're all grown up.

11. The following day I was able to hang out with the rest of PM's family. Her husband, JM who I definitely consider a very good friend and her two little boys. Her oldest boy, who is four now, I am madly in love with, and miss terribly when they leave. Her youngest, who is seven months, I had yet to meet. Yes ladies and gents, I have fallen madly in love with him as well. Never will you meet a happier child. I got plenty of "baby time" in, and am really sad they don't live closer, because I swear I'd sign up for babysitting duties regularly (are you guys listening? MOVE BACK). sigh, worth a shot folks. That evening PM, JM and I went to the movies to watch I Am Legend. I'll save that movie review for a separate post, and you all already know about the text messaging/LawBoy fiasco, so I'll skip that as well.

12. New Year's Eve was spent at my aunt and uncles house, with my parents, my cousin M&M, her boyfriend, and Braniac. Again, family, food, wine, laughter, conversation and games. All the good things in life. We watched Dick Clark's countdown, and I was home and in bed by 2AM.

13. I took lots of pictures during these few weeks, but have not had a chance to upload them yet...I'll share them on here soon though. I can honestly tell you that I'm actually sad for the holidays to be over. There was a joyful, warm, loving light surrounding them this year, and I'm not quite ready to turn it off yet. My Christmas tree is still up, and I still turn the lights on every night when I get home. I'm thinking I might have to take the tree down this weekend, and I'm kind of sad about that. But I guess I'll have the pictures to remind me of the season and make me smile.

I hope you all had as wonderful a holiday season as I did. And here's to a fantastic 2008!


Kimberly said...

Great TT! Sounds like a good holiday!

Norma said...

What a wonderful, special and well written Christmas card you've given all your readers!

My TT is up.

Unknown said...

Sounds like you had a real family Christmas. Wonderful! Happy T13!

Unknown said...

Sounds like a very special holiday season for you, great theme for this week.

Rebecca said...

Wow, when did you sleep? I didn't do TT this week, oh well.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good time all around. I could use a "girls night" myself.