2010 sailed in with the blue moon moonlight, through the avocado trees, touching ground on my grandpa's land. I spent New Year's Eve around the warmth of an outdoor fire, coyotes howling in the distance, Katie bundled up on my lap. Toward midnight, she and I crawled into our bed and I gave her a kiss and reminded her that she is the 5th generation of the Matics line to sleep on that land.
Katie loves to run on the land, and we play games with the citrus fruits. I had her help me build the fire, gathering kindling for the one of the most fundamental of human tasks. She and I walked the first tier of the grove together---crunch, crunch, crunch in the fallen leaves. We played hide-n-seek, letting the mountain air fill our lungs.
A small group of us spent the night, but we were joined by the rest of our extended family the following day. In the morning, my dad barbecued/grilled sausage, eggs, and toast. Katie and I shared a banana and a chocolate donut: my grandpa always had a chocolate donut and coffee on New Year's day. Katie and I ate ours and looked for birds and avocadoes just like Grandpa and I used to do. Then we hunted for avocadoes in the northwest part of the grove.
As more people arrived, we played games and ran the dogs. Katie loves Aunt Diane and Uncle Brad's dog Skya. ("See my new shirt, Skya?" "You are my favorite." "How was your day, Skya?") We also hiked to Grandpa's rock and told some of our favorite family stories there. After the hike, about 30 people all sat down to a huge prime rib feast. My dad did an exceptional cooking job on the prime rib this year, I thought. While Katie napped, a group of us cousins played a raucus and laugh-filled game of Catch Phrase, which involved all kinds of cheering. I love games with big groups of people---so much fun! Dessert followed, with Hannah's (Brandon's wife) delicious apple pie and several other treats.
Then we played our white elephant game, which is really fun with so many people. The gifts seem to be getting better and better, though every now and then there are a few clunkers. We ended up with some bath toilettries (Bill), a sock puppet kit (me), and a Santa candle (Katie). There is so much teasing and cheering going on as we play the game, so much mirth. It is one of my favorite traditions each year, but this year it was even more fun than usual.
I missed Grandpa, of course, and I spent some time sitting in his chair trying to think of him being there. In a thought experiment, I tried to release my mind from all sense of linear time (a human construct) and imagine us coexisting in the chair: him in the past and me now. Somewhere in the past, he is still sitting there... All that we think of as time is just a series of continous moments...
Anyway, it was a beautiful New Year's: full of family and nature and being out semi-far from civilization (though not as much as his land used to be). I love that we can focus on just each other with no technology (well, we do have cell phones): no internet, no working TV, nothing to distract us from what our thoughts and from talking with each other.
Katie loves it there. She said that taking a bath there was her favorite. She wants to spend the night again!
Yesterday also marked the one-year anniversary of my Gratitude Journal. Everyday for a year I have written down my thanks for several good and beautiful moments or experiences in that day. Even on days that have been harder, there are many parts of that day for which I have gratitude and I have learned better how to keep my mind trained on what is good and true and to let other things leave me. It is a good tool for me. I realize how many thousands of moments and memories I have been thankful for in 2009---and those were just the ones I wrote down. It is a powerful lesson for me. I began a new volume of the Gratitude Journal yesterday...
Happy 2010, readers!