1/1/11: New Year’s Eve Reflections

2010 into 2011 gave pause for reflections on how much things change.

It has been a custom in our circle of long time friends to gather together on New Year’s Eve.

Years ago, this tradition was begun in my home, where a group of friends arrived, each bringing a favorite dish to share with the whole community.  We’d all sit at table and begin with grace and a go-round of each saying something they were grateful for as the year ended and the new approached.  Then each of the cooks would introduce his or her contribution to the night’s menu, giving a short history of where it came from, ingredients, what makes it personally special and if it was handed down from ancestors or one that came from the sharer’s own creativity.

As the years passed, the table had to be extended many times, as our group grew and became a more extensive groaning board.

Amazing arrays of delicious and unique appetizers, salads, main courses, vegetables and desserts graced our palates and filled our stomachs and senses with well being and unity in what a dear restauranteur friend of mine  has deemed the best experience in life: sharing good food with good friends and family.  When I think back, I can still smell the tantalizing aromas and taste the many layered tastes of Kathy’s bountiful Bouef Bourguignon, Dara’s Eggplant Parmigiana, Veronica’s hearty Turkey Chili, Charlie’s Turk’s Turban, Evangeline’s Chimole, Willow’s Millet Meatless Loaf, Owen’s Paprika’d Salty Roast Chicken, Melanie’s Magnificent Meatloaf, Heide’s Decadent Chocolate Cake, Roz’s Lemon Drizzle Cake, Steve’s Spectacular Salads, our non cook but still game for contributing goodies, Bruce’s, Lo Mein from his favorite Chinese restaurant and the health conscious, sugar free Whistle Stop cheesecake and my own Ant Hill, a concoction of caviar and eggs; homemade chopped liver and  Thai Chicken with Jasmine Ginger Rice with fresh green beans atop.  There have been Apple Stuffed Roast Duckling with Orange Glaze, Shepherd’s Pie, Shrimp Scampi, thick, creamy Seafood Bisque, Rum cakes, Bourbon Balls, Spinach Cream in Crunchy Bread Bowls, Homemade Vanilla’d Pumpkin Pie with Fresh Made Whipped Cream, Cinnamon Raisin Apple Pie in Shortbread Crust, S’More Tarts, Passionfruit and Dark Chocolate Tarts, Pear and Ginger Tarts, Struffoli, Chocolate and Vanilla Cannolis, Decadent Golden Raisin Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Crumb Squares, Fresh Fruit of all kinds, crudites filled with fresh vegetables and homemade dips to go with, cheeses from around the world, salsas and chips and all sorts of nuts and candy to delight the child still alive in each of us.

And being the Cheese cake Queen, the list of Nothing Plain  About This, Cinnamon Swirl, Raspberry and Chocolate Chip expanded, over the years and with greater guts to try new ingredients; to include Banana, Eggnog, Chocolate Mousse, Apricot, Kiwi, Lemon, Lime Curd, Passionfruit, Marionberry, Mango, Guava and Pumpkin Streusel With Caramel Drizzle.   All arriving in their buttery sweet honey grahamed crusts to delight every taste bud.

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, experimenting with the bounty of Mother Nature in my kitchen.  More comes together there than anywhere and what rises to the surface touches body, mind and spirit and  becomes more evident than mere yeasty bakeables.  It’s where I can let go of knotty challenges and free flow to allow the Universe and Angels in to take over the wheel while I whirl in spices and heart singing in the positive energy of creating something wonderful and delicious to share with the people I love.. So I thought, why go out to a restaurant when we can come together and really create a smorgasbord of culinary creations ourselves.  My thought being that we all have some dishes that are meaningful and pleasurable to us and that was the kind of evening I’d been having at my home for years with the house being open to anyone who wanted to join us in ringing out the old and bringing in the new year with a focus on what good we found as we met one another along our criss crossing paths.  Pots of homemade chili and soup and good bread was the simple start after a burning bowl ceremony at the nearby Unity church midnight service. We’d sit around warming our stomachs and our hearts and souls with the shared food and stories of the miracles that had occurred in our lives and talk about what we’d like to see happen in the new year.  Then we’d play board games and eat some dessert; starting the year off with the spirit of togetherness, laughter, light and sweetness.

It was a vision of mine that unfolded over the years to wax and wane in group size, time and texture and began to be hosted in the some of the homes of the other gatherees.

The warmth of the coming together always remained and metamorphosed into everyone looking forward to favorite dishes being requested and new people joining with fresh energy and prepared goodies of their own to share with us.  The particulars may have evolved but one thing remained. Our own burning bowl ceremony remained through ice and snow banks.  About fifteen minutes before midnight, we’d stand outside, one of us holding a container and lighter for each to light afire  the slips of paper on which we’d written what we wanted to release from the old year. Watching the energy of that cleansing go up in smoke lightened and was healing; freeing in some small but important way.

In keeping within a circle of giving and receiving energy, on separate slips of paper we’d write the things we’d like Angels, Spirit, God or the Universe to bring to us in the coming year. These would be placed in envelopes with the individual’s name on the front and gathered to be mailed out before the end of the new year so that everyone could take a look and see in what manner their wishes were answered.  This was shared bridging one year into another in taking a look at how the Universe often brings us what we want and need in ways we may not have recognized and in a manner not anticipated or thought of as our wish granted.  This practice gave us an optical and conscious tune up with the looking back with different perspective of time and space and the added dimension of eyes, ears and hearts of friends.

Some years, game playing turned into conversation time and in hard times of recent years, some didn’t want to go the spirit route when practical survival was so hard and concrete.

This year we were down to three of us and snow piled to the sky. So we decided to go to our fav local Italian restaurant.

Gino’s italian food was yum & the snow not too terrible to climb over in our mukluks and layers of outer wear.

Gave us a few nice flashbacks to another life in the alps somewhere.

The ever so friendly and accomodating staff at the restaurant served us delicious garlic slices that ripped open tom’s lip. a testament to careful and safe cooking, they were so well done that we could clink them on the edges of our plate so they served as percussion instruments. wasn’t that clever of them to provide the opportunity for entertainment during the meal.

It being a special occasion, we were told ‘take your time’ as they grabbed the plates practically right out from under our forks in their efforts to be efficient and attentive.  the waiter must have loved our liberal tip because he dashed out & disappeared the moment the bill was paid-no doubt running home to show his family how much he made at work that evening.

The cleaners were especially efficient as they had the floor mopped and the other chairs up on tables before we could get our coats on & wish them a happy new year.

How lucky is that restaurant to have such help!

After that celebratory energy we mushed on home through the winterwonderland and ultimately it was quiet new year’sand we missed you and ther gang very much.

But as we sat tucked warm & safely in, watching the ball drop & listeing to all that fabulous rap music, with the very relevant, today lyrics -so melodic-& were watching the performers in their raggedy clothes that fell below the poor boys buttline, we realized that it was important to see them so gainfully employed since they showed how needy they are.

Poor things.

Shabby threads, must be starving too, because they seemed not to have the energy to sing more than mumbles and they must’ve caught some street lice or some such skin adversity because they kept grabbing their lower regions like scratching & itching and jumping up & down like st vitus dance.

Such dear talented kids, it’s such a shame. but i give them e for effort. you can’t keep talent down.

Nice of mayor blumberg & the city to give them a chance to show us what they got, dontcha think.

And so they did and we saw & heard.

It was jaw dropping.

You never know where you charity begins but that night we knew ours began at home.

In Light & Love

florence

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2 Responses to “1/1/11: New Year’s Eve Reflections”

  1. Ray Says:

    Florence,
    Traditions whether handed down or created as new are beautiful. My wife, Cheré, started many family traditions. Our New Years tradition was similar to yours, however, my career kept us on the move. If I was not off in some God forsaken jungle or desert and was in fact, home on New Year’s Cheré would invite some new friends and old friends to celebrate seeing the old year out and greeting the New Year. In Germany, we had all the young men in my section at our house, or the one the military allowed us to use. Uncle Sam provided our furniture overseas and we sat twenty at our table. Most of those with families would have their meal at home and bring refreshments and finger foods for the New Year’s celebrations.
    Thanks for sharing. This year three out of four of my children were here. I spent the New Year at my baby daughter’s house. I did spend time with eight of the nine grandkids and my four great-grandkids. The oldest boy is living in Atlanta and he did call.

    Stay warm and dry
    Ray

  2. Ray Says:

    I’m still having a problem with some of our young talent. I feel the same as you . I’m tempted to send some anti itch cream and clothinjg without holes in them.

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