Happy 2009, everyone!
We ushered in the year with a bang by gathering together with some other American friends last night to chat, play games, eat, and welcome in the New Year. Or at least, that was the idea. In reality, several of our group were fighting off the "gunk" (my own term for the extremely productive coughing and runny noses that's been going on around my house as well as our friends' houses), John was delayed two hours by work that absolutely needed to get done at that moment, Chloe pooped in her pull-up, and Christin cried a good part of the evening. Good Grief!
Seriously, though, isn't that just life? It can be so easy to get our expectations up, especially around the holidays. "Oooh, we just have to have this perfect meal on Christmas Day . . . we just have to get this gift for our daughters . . . it won't feel like the holidays unless we do (fill in the blank.)" Sometimes our ideals, though important and worthwhile, can trip us up if we get too set on them. Even seeking after some perfectionist idea of "quality family time" can sometimes keep me from simply making the best of things and enjoying the time we do have!
(Aside: I'll never forget our first Christmas in this country. The very first year after we moved overseas, we were in Hong Kong having Clara Anne, so when the second year rolled around, we were so excited. We planned tons of outreach parties and events and generally ran ourselves ragged, so much so that John got sicker than he had ever been in his life with a super high fever, Clara Anne had the stomach flu for her first birthday, and all of the special menus I had planned got tossed out in favor of plain toast and hot tea. I was, perhaps unreasonably, disappointed. Thankfully I got over it, and now it makes for a funny memory!)
So, our New Year's Eve wasn't perfect, but we did have a wonderful time. We ladies had planned an appetizer meal, and so we had a variety of munchies including hot spinach and artichoke dip, queso and chips, fresh fruit kabobs (love those fresh strawberries in season!), and other goodies. The kids enjoyed playing some games together and the adults did too! Our friends have a fun game called "Apples to Apples" that is a great party game. My husband managed to pull out the win, though it was close! Fun times and lots of laughter!
The crazy fun, though, started after midnight. First of all, I never stay up that late. There's always a baby who is hungry in the morning, so only an extremely foolish mother would do a stupid thing like stay up really late, right? Knowing that her baby will need to nurse at 7 am, staying up past midnight is really a dumb decision, right?!?! But I guess you can just call me extremely foolish. Good thing I don't do this more than once a year!
After midnight our friends pulled out their "I Love the 80's" board game. We thought we'd give it a go, and spent a good part of the next few hours laughing. Was it really that funny or were we just all deliriously tired? Who can say?
Anyway, we returned home in the wee hours of the morning with children bundled up in their jammies and winter coats, and managed to finally get everyone in bed including ourselves. It was a New Year's Eve to remember!
I'm not such a fan of new year's resolutions, but I CAN see the value of taking some time to take stock of my life, look at some areas that need improvement, and set a few goals about how to improve those things. However, it will have to wait for tomorrow. As expected, Christin was up at 7:30, and when my house helper arrived at 10:30 for a shortened day of work, my brain was still barely functioning! But thank the Lord for her! She was only here for a few hours today but took care of the dishes, helped me prepare supper, and folded a mountain of clean laundry which helped out a lot!
So, though I haven't completely thought it through, one resolution I know is in my heart in this upcoming year: make it a year of rejoicing in the Lord's faithfulness and growing closer to Him day by day. Thankfully, this resolution doesn't depend on my own strength to perform--it is His strength and love which provide the power for growth and change. Praise Him for that!
Let me be (perhaps) the first to wish you a happy new year in our local language: Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy New Year!