Last night I celebrated the New Year twice. The first time was at 9 PM, when the fall of the ball in Manhattan is first shown in California. My morning lark daughter and her family came to stay overnight, and we played games, fixed little bagel pizzas and mini quiches and had sparkling cider for the three boys and champagne for the parents who wanted it. The only problem was that we were on the wrong channel until the ball had already fallen, so all we saw was the confetti and the ending strains of Frank Sinatra (a Jersey boy) singing "New York, New York." They were all in bed before midnight.
I was planning to follow their example, when my oldest daughter and her family returned form a party where they actually watched the ball fall at 9, and then came home, but since they are all night owls, they were just getting started, and my son-in-law found a station that was replaying the NYC ball fall at midnight...except it was a certain news station which was actually running three minutes late. However, it meant that I got to see the ball fall at 12:03 and welcomed in 2014 in the appropriate manner, and then went to bed.
Since the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God is my Feast Day (from my middle name), I always get up for Mass on January 1. It was easier when it was a Holy Day, because then we have later Masses to choose from. But today the latest Mass was 9, so I went off to Mass in the company of the morning lark family after we moved the night owls' minivan and set off their car alarm in case anyone in the neighborhood was still asleep.
Our priest said that when he was a boy in the Philippines, his bishop used to greet everyone with Happy New You, since all of us have the ability to change ourselves, and thus change the world around us. This resonated with a quote from G. K. Chesterton that was included in our church bulletin:
"The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year, but rather that we should have a new soul."
And I do feel a new soul bubbling up in me as I set forth on the untested waters of 2014. My resolution is tied up in one word: "outside," to remind me to get outside a least once a day, for sunshine (or rain), fresh air, the garden, and a chance to be mindful of all the beauty around me. I'm sitting at my new desk in my new office looking out at three of my grandsons playing some version of soccer, and tomorrow I take off for the north with my son to visit my youngest daughter's godparents. It is out of my comfort zone, but that seems to be where I need to be right now, and it will be the last chance to get away before he starts school again.
A new year, a chance to begin again, and to celebrate all the ongoing things in my life that I can easily take for granted: a small granddaughter who sat with me quietly all through Mass, sunshine gleaming on green grass on January 1, and friends who look forward to our visit, as well as all the family and friends to whom I will be sending my belated Christmas cards. But that is a story for another day!