Happy New Year!
When the Rose Parade is on TV I know it must be New Year's Day. Attending in person has always been on my "bucket list." I am amazed at all the creativity and hard work exhibited. Shortly, we change channels to watch football. Wouldn't you know that three games we really want to see are at the same time? No matter. We'll be watching and cheering for Tom's alma mater in the Gator Bowl. Go Dawgs!!!
Last night as we were enjoying a quiet, candlelight dinner, I realized that for us, New Year's Eve is more about remembering than about looking forward. Maybe our ages are showing. It's not that we don't think about the new year presenting new opportunities or a clean slate, so to speak. It's just that we have such delightful memories from years past--and some memories that are painful as well.
Tom's mom loved the parades on Thanksgiving Day and New Year's. She planned her mornings around being able to watch uninterrupted. She would settle in her chair with the remote in one hand and the phone in the other so she call and remind us that "parades have started." My first thoughts when the Rose Parade came on today were of Mom. One memory of her led to another and another and another . . .
Tommy and Liz have a house full of company--nine children and five adults. In the early years of their marriage, before they had children, friends of theirs from high school and college would arrive at their house with sleeping bags and pillows for a New Year's Eve celebration. None of the friends lived in the town where T & L lived and didn't want to drive home after an evening of merriment. At midnight Tommy would call to wish us "Happy New Year," knowing that he would wake us up with his greeting. Last night, in addition to the fourteen already present, two more joined them for dinner. We had planned to stop by for a bit, but it didn't work out for us to join them.
When Tommy and Marty were teenagers, several New Year's Eve gatherings for their friends were at our house. Ingredients for the evening were simple: lots of food, soft drinks and current board games. We would play with them until about ten, say our good nights and wait to be awakened by T&M at midnight with "Happy New Year." One year the youth group sponsors decided the party should be at their house instead of ours. What they didn't realize was that it really wasn't a church function. Our youth group was one big family that attracted others of T&M's friends and they gathered at our house for a party. That happened a lot, not just on New Year's Eve and last night I remembered that group of young folks, how special they were--and are today! Some of them were among those who celebrated with Tommy and Liz at their "spend the night" parties and one of the adults at their house last night was included in both of the earlier celebrations. I didn't wait for Tommy to wake me last night. I called him at 10:45 to say "Happy New Year" and that I was going to bed. Why didn't I think of that before?
That may be too much information, but thinking back reminded me of the friendships begun and nurtured in the youth group. It reminded me of individuals in the group, where they are today, what they are doing and how those friendships have lasted. I am thankful for our children's friends and thankful we are privileged to be included in their circle. I am thankful for a special youth director who was at the heart of the group. He remains close to them.
The holiday season of 1981 has been referenced recently when I wrote of our experience with a breast cancer diagnosis and surgery just three days after Christmas. In those days, that was not "drive through" surgery, but one that kept you hospitalized several days, so I was still in the hospital on New Year's Eve. That was the day pathology reports were shared and Tom planned to have two dear friends spend with me. Sybil came to spend the afternoon and Marilyn arrived in the early evening to spend the night. I will always be touched by the thoughtfulness of his arrangements and the sacrifice my two friends made to be with me that day. I still smile about an event of the afternoon. On that particular day patients from one wing were being transferred to another so deep cleaning could take place. Early in the afternoon, housekeeping took all my personal belongings to my new room and said someone would be back for me. Sybil and I visited, not paying attention to the time. About 5 p.m. an orderly entered my room, did a quick about face and left. We heard him in the hall stating, "There's someone in that room!" The staff had forgotten to move me. Later, Marilyn and I feasted on peanuts and popcorn in my new room. Tom had brought some for the nurses' station and for us to eat while we talked and watched football. It was an in-hospital slumber party. Those two friends helped me more than they will ever know. They continue to be a most important part of our lives. They came to California after cancer surgery there and they and their husbands come often to Tennessee now.
Precious memories come to mind at the close of this year. One memory leads to another and each reminds me of the One from whom all blessings flow. The new year has begun; we don't know what it holds. The slate is blank; the opportunities are many. I trust that this time next year we will have added to the precious memory bank. God bless you in the coming days!