The end of the year is a good and fine and happy thing. I would never claim to be so tough and unsentimental as to reach the end of anything without a glance backward, without a touch of wistfulness about all of the great things that have been. I’m much too thankful for my wonderfully blessed life to leave it all behind without a blink. But the obvious upside of the end of a good thing is that it is, potentially, the beginning of any terrific other thing I can imagine and am willing to work toward experiencing, knowing, or achieving.
I’ll toast that. Something sparkly is always appropriate for inviting the most dazzling future imaginable to come and be mine. So whether it’s mineral water with a little fizz, elderflower or fruit pressé, or some refined adult bubbly beverage, I’ll drink to a magnificent future. Some delicious food is appropriate with that, not to mention a good way to slow down the drinking of the sparkling drinks in a good and healthy way. My preference for occasions like this is food that is easily prepared ahead of time, varied in flavors and textures and temperatures and all of those lovely kinds of qualities, and easy to eat without a lot of fiddling around with cutlery. Yep, a cocktail party. Kids love hors d’oeuvres or appetizers just as much as their elders do, and most of us get a special kick out of miniature stuff, too, so finger food with spritzy drinks wins!
But a new year also begs me for a new attitude in general. One of my particular wishes for the year ahead is that, despite the many worthwhile and appealing events that guarantee a busy twelvemonth, I will live as mindfully as I can. I want to savor all the food and drink of which I partake, just as I should relish all of the events of the day to the fullest extent I can. Do less, and do it more slowly, just because I can get more out of what I do choose, from the food and drink I enjoy to the events of the day in which I enjoy them. What a thought.
For my New Year’s Eve and Day celebrations to gleam the most brightly and beautifully, perhaps a contrasting context of unhurried, uncomplicated quiet and calm will be the best setting for the jewels of newness and anticipation. I resolve to unplug sooner, more often, and for longer periods throughout the year ahead. Our recent power outage adventures were a marvelous reminder of what sweet benefits come from that one easy commitment. A single evening with the lights off, the oven, microwave and TV out of commission, the batteries of our computers run down to empty, and the bridge into town closed by the same storm that knocked out the power—that night was an unexpectedly welcome and timely reminder of what really gives me joy. Even a dinner of cold cereal was a remarkably delicious last-minute substitute for the intended hot food, when I ate it in the company of my beloved, the two of us leaning in over our bowls by amber candlelight and laughing like little kids at the campfire-casual quality of our romantic evening.
Later, we sat on the couch, with our handful of candles occasionally flickering brightly enough to reach as far as the rain-blurred windows, and enjoyed sipping an exceptional red wine while doing nothing more plugged in than attuning ourselves to an actual, slow, lengthy, lingering, lovely—hey! Watch those minds of yours, y’all!—conversation. Heaven. An uninterrupted evening of candlelit dinner and conversation over a superb glass of wine. I’ll enjoy this New Year’s Eve with my medium-rare roast beef and baked potatoes, the dessert of freshly baked apple and brown sugar crostata (pictures to follow!), and the happy midnight toast of sparkling goodness, yes, absolutely. I look forward to many more such delights in the year yet to come. But I’ll take better advantage, too, of the day with a plate of fried eggs, a rasher of bacon, and a glass of milk, or the evening when I thought I was going to have to eat on the run and a canceled event let me stay home instead and fix up a nice, slow-simmering ragout of vegetables and mushrooms to eat with chewy, crusty peasant bread, perhaps complemented by another glass of that marvelous red wine.
Slow and steady doesn’t just win the race; it is the race. Happy New Year to us all!