Happy New Year 2014!
A long tradition in the Crawford family has been to hit the beach on New Year’s Day, be it the Pacific or the Atlantic. We’ve never spent New Year’s Day near any other ocean, though our boys certainly have. They are the adventurers of this family.
Ocean contemplations, forest dreams
Being near the source of the beginning of life on earth seems a proper place to spend the beginning of a new year. The steady, melodic slap and roar of the waves provides a good background to mindful meditation and contemplation of how the past year has blessed us and what the new year offers. As for New Year’s resolutions, neither sweetie nor I have ever indulged in such fanciful notions. But apparently plenty of folks do, evidenced by the increased crowds at the gym.
If the ocean, admittedly often cold and blustery this time of year, doesn’t beckon, we might be tempted toward Jack London State Historic Park. They now offer guided New Year hikes, and with John Lynch or Jeff Falconer at the helm, we’d be treated to a delightful outing. Or there’s always the Regional Park in Glen Ellen.
In any case, we plan to be out in nature to start anew.
If you are reading this on New Year’s Eve, your plans for today and tomorrow may still be unfolding. Whatever you do, I sincerely hope that you include a designated driver if spirited imbibing is part of your celebrations.
As for celebrating, our days from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day are often filled with various festivities including family and friends. Besides the raucous Ayers/Crawford/Goldhammer/Holbrow/Wilson/Stein family gatherings of this season, I attended two quite notable neighborhood parties this year. (I also missed a few by being out of town.)
Our neighbors Mark and Mary Lavin have been hosting a seasonal celebration for decades. We’ve attended most of them. The routine rarely varies and yet it always seems newly perfect, early enough in December to launch the holiday season.
Mary is the quintessential party planner, full of energy and enthusiasm. Even as you walk into their cozy home, past the amazing tree always decked out with a bounty of ornaments, you can hear Mary’s laughter from the kitchen. She’s happily pulling dish after dish of sizzling, savory appetizers from the oven, while an entire buffet dinner awaits on a huge table dominating a corner of the room. A tray of desserts beckons nearby.
Mark, for his part, mans the wine, keeping glasses filled and spirits bright. He easily gets folks mixing by introducing newcomers to seasoned folks, somehow making it all seem easy, while upwards of 40 friends gather around.
White elephants abounding
Mary and Mark are pros at making guests feel comfortable. In fact, their neighborhood celebration is merely a warm-up for their month of celebrations that culminate in a family dinner party including 50 folks. This year, that meant “only” 14 kids under 18, all of whom receive carefully chosen, beautifully wrapped gifts. In past years, those numbers of children under 18 have been much higher, with always the same attention to pleasing gifts.