Friday, January 1, 2016

Ringing in a New Year

Our family tradition is to toast the New Year with sparkling cider at midnight!

We spend most New Year's Eves at home, having a quiet gathering with my children and their spouses. We enjoy homemade cheesecake and, at midnight, break open some bottles of sparkling cider and toast the New Year. That's our usual tradition, and I like it.

This year, however, Jeff and Dana have moved back to The Mountain, and that means PARTY! Dana texted me at 11:00 that morning, saying they were inviting everyone for games and snacks, so I texted my kids from the movie theater (where Mark and I were waiting for Star Wars to begin; his first viewing and my second) and it was decided that we would join in on the merriment.

Jake's delicious lasagna (or what was left before we had seconds...).

Dylan, unfortunately, had to work from 5:00 to 11:00 that evening, so we decided we would all go ahead to the party around 9 or 10:00 and he would join us after work. Meanwhile, we had an early dinner so Dylan could eat before he left.

Jake has often told us about the amazing lasagna his mom and grandmother make, so I asked him to make it for our New Year's Eve dinner. It seemed like good timing, since my New Year's resolution, as it so often is, is to get healthy and lose weight in 2016. There will be no lasagna noodles or garlic bread (or any bread, for that matter) anywhere on the low-carb menu during the coming months!

Dylan made the garlic bread. Better than store-bought!

The lasagna was amazing, as evidenced by the fact that we ate the entire pan in one meal. And Dylan's garlic bread was to die for, as well. No leftovers for another day this time around!

Family friend Crystal joins Dana, Elsie, Cheri (Dana's mother, aka "Nana"),
Jeff (my brother), Marcus, and Hayden in tackling a very tough puzzle.

We arrived at Jeff and Dana's place right around 10:00. Let the fun begin! And it was a fun night of visiting and joking and laughing and loud music and noshing on yummy snacks like chips and dip, homemade cheese balls (my mother's recipe by Dana, my favorite!) and crackers, caramel corn, and chocolates.

Their goal was to finish the puzzle before the New Year.
It took more than three hours, but they made it with 5 minutes to spare!

Sarah, Chris, Jona (Dana's sister) and her husband Kim, and my nephew
Burke play several rounds of Apples to Apples. In the background,
Dana's stepdad Dee plays cards with my niece Haley (off-camera at left).

My niece Emma and her cousin Mallory (Kim and Jona's daughter)
prepare to break hearts at the New Year's Eve dance.

My niece Callie wants in on the action. She's not shy!

My niece Brinley pauses for a quick photo.

Mark, Dylan, and Jake take it easy while Jeff and Dana's grandson 
Aiden walks by in his kingly crown.

Poor Dylan had to work until 11:00 tonight. He said he sold more liquor tonight than he has in the whole nine months he's been at Walmart! He finally joined us around 11:20, and he brought a big box of fireworks with him!

Mark and Dylan share a "touching" father and son moment.

Jona photobombs the sparkling cider just before midnight!

Ten minutes before midnight, Kim and Jona helped me gather all the sparkling cider bottles donated by our various families and get them opened before we gathered everyone to fill their motley array of cups and glasses. Someone turned the TV to the channel showing Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve (with Ryan Seacrest and Carrie Underwood) so we could watch the countdown to midnight.

Watching the ball in Times Square just. about. to. fall...

We all started counting down: "Ten...nine...eight..." And then, "HAPPY NEW YEAR!"

A beautiful midnight moon over Jeff and Dana's neighborhood.

As soon as the Times Square globe dropped, we all toasted the New Year with our assorted cups of sparkling cider, and then we headed outside to enjoy the fireworks Dylan had brought with him from Walmart. Throughout the neighborhood, we could hear the concussions of others setting off firecrackers. Ours were more sparkly than noisy. Just the way I like them!

Then it was time to head home. Jake had to work at 6:45 a.m. and Mark had to work at 8:00 a.m. (meaning I had to get up at 7:30 to drive him), so we didn't dare to stay and revel any longer. But it was fun celebrating the arrival of 2016 with friends and family. Thanks, Jeff and Dana, for hosting us!

Dylan brought the fireworks.


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