The Spanish have an interesting tradition to celebrate New Year’s Eve. In the last minute of the year, they eat 12 grapes (one every 5 seconds). You may think this sounds easy, but in fact, it’s really fast and your mouth fills up really quickly.
Each grape signifies a month of good luck. But don’t you worry, I shoved all of those grapes in my mouth because I WANTED that good luck. And not to brag or anything, but I may have been the only person to complete the challenge.
Before the grapes, Kelly and I had an amazing dinner with my friends Ralph, Abby, Valerie, and Ralph’s mom who was visiting (and was the fantastic chef).
While we had a great time, we all agreed that NYE is much more climactic in the U.S. I really missed the countdown, the ball drop, and Dick Clark (wait, is he still alive?). Either way, judging by the quality company of the evening, I am certain that 2011 will be a good year.
I think I’d like to officially declare New Year’s Eve my favorite holiday. I know this is a strange choice, but hear me out. On a superficial level, I like how everyone dresses up in pretty, sparkly things, wears high heels, and drinks champagne. What holiday is more glamorous? Also, I’m a night owl and I feel like this is one night of the year where everyone stays up late and plays with me. It’s so fun. Thirdly, NYE reminds me of the final scene in When Harry Met Sally (the cutest!).
(Sorry if I just ruined the movie for you. Watch it anyway.)
Have I convinced you of the glory of this holiday yet?
Most of all, I love New Year’s Eve because it is a beautiful time of self-reflection. You can’t help but look back at the year behind you and ask questions: What was memorable about this year? What was wretched about this year? What could I have done differently? I find that people approach a new year with a pure feeling of hopefulness. Sure, the date is different, but it’s more than that…it’s a fresh start. 2011, what will you hold for me?
When I think back a year ago today, I was probably cramming for finals for my last fall semester of undergrad. I had yet to fall head over heels in love with travel and Europe. I had no clue that a year later I’d be celebrating the next new year on a different continent. 2010 held a lot of big changes for me. I graduated college, spent a summer working with a non-profit in the South, and moved across an ocean to start a job teaching. I don’t think any other year has been so full of grand changes.
To think about 2011 is overwhelming. Being a post-grad “twenty-something” has been both difficult and wonderful. I have unlimited possibilities. The thrill of seeking whatever dream I have in my heart is exhiliarating. And there are no final exams. However, everything feels incredibly impermanent. This job, this apartment, this country. No one prepared me for this feeling of utter confusion. What will I do after this teaching year is over? Where will I be? Will I have any money left? (probably not).
For 2011, I plan on being present (or trying my best to be). And beyond being present, I plan on being unafraid. I don’t know what my next job or next home will be, but I do know that by making the most of this opportunity for self-exploration, I can confidently step forward in a new direction when June comes.
I received two pieces of inspiration I would like to share with you. One, from my mentor at my summer job, Scott:
“As you continue to get older you will look back on your life like a patchwork quilt – many different season are sewn together to make beautiful whole. The key is to appreciate each season, each personal encounter, and realize their significance in your life. No season is meaningless.”
And the other, from one of my favorite books, The Alchemist:
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and eternity.”
And if you, dear blog reader, have any other additional advice to share, I would welcome it with open arms. I know it’s premature, but happy new year, and happy self-reflection.