This has been the 4th party my family has hosted within one week! First we had Christmas Our Christmas Eve Celebration.
Then we had the big Christmas Day celebration, for which I served as the chef for the day and created a course feast for the family. Here’s the menu (and yes, I’ll post some of these recipes on the website and send as part of the new “Blasts” that will be sent out each month, but you have to subscribe for these complimentary recipes!)
Appetizers: Creamy White Wine and Herbal Shrimp & Baked Artichoke Dip served with Crostini
Pasta: Penne alla Norcina (An Italian Sausage based cream sauce) – true comfort food!
Poultry Course: Citrus, Herb and Bear Can Roasted Whole Chicken – which I cooked on an outside grill. Delicious!
Pork Course: Bacon wrapped sage seasoned pork tenderloins, served over braised onions and apples
Beef Course: Rosemary and Italian Crumb Crusted Prime Rib of Beef
Potato Course: Roasted potatoes, scored and seasoned with thyme, olive oil and kosher salt
Veggies: Oven Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower and Red Onions
The next day, the Feast of the Holy Family, we all gathered again at my sister’s home. He dined on delicious comfort foods: Crab Soup, variety spiced hot wings, and flavorful cuts of meats and cheeses for thick and delicious deli sandwiches.
Three straight days of feasting was enough for me. I went on a 5 day retreat in the hills of West Virginia, where I feasted on spiritual truths from prayer and some gourmet meals prepared in a simple cabin out in the woods.
Finally, a big New Year’s bash at mom and dad’s topped off a week of family festivities and delicious foods.
Throughout the feasting and joy, I can easily sense a deep level of faithfulness. Perhaps this type of celebration provides a glimpse of the celebration of the eternal wedding banquet. Heaven is NOT boring! It is a celebration of something deep, meaningful and eternal. And, it’s also something done within the context of relationships, i.e., family and friends, people with whom you like to spend time.
(Grandpa with some of his grandsons)
I sensed this faith throughout our celebration, but especially in last night’s New Year celebration. About 15 minutes before midnight, we gathered as family and friends to quietly reflect on the past year’s blessings. We paused in a moment of silence to ask for blessings on our New Year’s resolutions, i.e., our desires to be better, similar to the sentiment of a confessional act of contrition. To keep the tradition since the 5th century going strong, we also prayed the Te Deum with hopes to receive the plenary indulgence the Church generously offers. Then after recognizing God in the midst of the good times, rather than only paying attention to God in the bad times, we broke open the party hats and noisemakers. We counted down together, not necessarily to watch a decorated ball drop, but to simply count the precious seconds of the past that projects us into the future. We cheered the New Year and lit sparklers for the kids to enjoy in the front yard, bringing laughter and the light of hope into a lonely dark night. We feasted again, a literal midnight snack, and then pushed to the wee hours of the morning to clean up – what I affectionately call “Grace AFTER Meals.”
We finally got around to sleep about 2:00 am, resting in the Lord who refreshes us, recreates us, and makes all things new.
This morning, even though it wasn’t a Holy Day of Obligation, my family gathered in my mother’s living room and I offered a “home Mass” for my family. I told them that today, January 1 – the Feast of the Mother of God – is really a Holy Day of Opportunity! And what exactly was the opportunity? to do what my family has always done – celebrate the gift of life together as a family!
God was “invited” to each of these celebrations. However, He is not as much a “guest of honor” as He is the Head of the household. He is actually the One who invites us to celebrate with Him. Because of that simple act of recognizing God in our lives – the good times and bad – we can celebrate this New Year with great hope.
Life can’t be boring! Life can’t be “the same old, nothing new, drudgery!” With God, all things are made new!
From my non-stop party family to yours, I wish you all the blessings of a New Year in God who truly re-creates us into his beloved children. That’s something to celebrate, not just at the end/start of a calendar year, but everyday of our life!
Happy New Year!
Now, please post a comment to tell us how YOU and YOUR FAMILY made this a special New Year Celebration!
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