Some years are hard to say good-bye to. Some are not.
There are years of blessings and sweet reprieve and then there are years, much like a guest who has overstayed their welcome, that leave one ready to help them out the door with a boot to the butt.
2017 was one of THOSE years.
It was the hardest year we have lived as a family. There were challenges we never guessed would be part of our family’s story, and trials that exceeded anything I could have fathomed five years ago. This year was an out-of-control, white-knuckle ride that taught us much about surrender and left us looking to our only source of hope: the divine conductor.
It was an unpleasant year of stretching…a dichotomy of great discomfort but also great growth.
Its funny how those two things seem to be attached by an unbreakable string.
The lessons learned this year were essential, even blessed, and now that I have survived the storm I can look back and see that what seemed an out of control nightmare was a divinely orchestrated season of pruning, a needed season before we could bear fruit.
I can look back now and see things more clearly than I could when I was drowning in despair 6 months ago.
I see the purpose.
I see the growth.
I see the blessing and care.
And I see that single set of footprints in the sand left by a loving Lord who carried us through the last 12 months…
But I’d be lying if I said I was sad to see 2017 go.
There is a sense of relief that 2017 has come to a close, as well and profound feelings of hope that next year with hold more laughter than tears.
Welcome, 2018! We are so glad to see you!!
It has become a annual tradition to join our friends, the Hudaks, in ringing in the New Year…and do so in spectacular fashion!
The evening revolves around food, as all good celebrations do. We make a variety of appetizers to add to the scrumptious feast laid out by our hosts, and together have one heck of a spread!
We arrived to begin the countdown at 7:00 pm. The night began with eating and visiting. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to catch up and hear about each other’s Christmases. At 9:00 pm the countdown to New Year’s began.
For the last few years we have planned fun activities and games to countdown the minutes leading up to the ball dropping in Times Square. The kids never know what is planned so these activities are revealed by popping a balloon every 30 minutes that contain a paper declaring the next activity.
The planned activities kicked off at 9:00 with some fun 2017 trivia and a “Year in Review” sheet for everyone to fill out. This has become a beloved tradition that I treasure. It is so much fun to see what each of my kids write in their reflections as they look back on the past year, as well as read their goals for the upcoming year. Scrapbooking these sheets allows me to look back on their evolution and growth as they grow from children to young adults.
At 9:30 the next balloon was popped. This was a game that required some floor space so we moved down to the basement where the kids would have room to spread out in a large circle. For this fun, high adrenaline game the kids took turns rolling two sets of di with the goal of roling a double. When someone rolled a double they got to pick one of the movie theatre candies from the center of the circle OR steal from another player. This twist in the game made for a lot of squeals and groans as the kids acquired their favorite treat only to lose it with the roll of the dice. At the end of 10 minutes everyone got to keep whatever candy was in their possession.
At 10:00 the kids broke into two teams: boys vs girls, for a “Selfie Scavenger Hunt.” The list they were given instructed them to take selfies with the 15 items on their list, most of which revolved around the Christmas season. It was a delight sitting back and watching the eight of them race and scramble to try and find all the items on their list.
At 10:30 we engaged in a little “Hanky Panky”…a game that is as much fun to photograph as it is to play. Everyone gathered in the living room with a fresh box of tissues on their laps. On the count of three everyone began pulling tissues from their box, one at a time, with the goal of being the first to empty their box. We thought the Hudak’s propensity towards allergies would put them at a distinct advantage over the McCleerys, but Toby (our Dark Horse) pulled off a spectacular win.
At 11:00 it was time to introduce the Hudak’s to “Speak Out,” a game we enjoyed immensely at our “Mock New Year’s Eve party” two days prior.
Lucas was hilarious! We laughed until we cried.
As midnight loomed we had time for one last activity. This one came from the Hudaks. It was time for our traditional launching of the sky lanterns. Decorated with our hopes and dream for the New Year, we stepped outside and launched our dreams toward Heaven.
There is something so beautiful about penning our hopes on paper and setting them a flight, both figuratively and in actuality.
The night was cold and still as we watched our lanterns of light float away.
By then it was almost midnight.
Bubbly was poured (Non-alcoholic, of course) 😉
And hats were donned, as we counted down to a New Year.
We ushered in 2018 with cheers, kisses, and the Hudak tradition of a barefoot run through the snow…BRRRRR!!
Then enjoyed the warmth of the fire and good company until our carriage turned back to a pumpkin and it was time to return home.
Happy New Year, from our family to yours!