We’re just finishing the clean-up from my partner’s annual New Year’s Day party and the “let’s share our leftovers” dinner with friends who also throw a New Year’s Day party. The food, may I say, was excellent and the aftermath session of discussion about their and our friends was very satisfying.
During the discussion I found myself thinking about those party attendees who we only see once a year, and always at this party. Several have been invited every year for over twenty-five events and are always greeted with delight and affection. I’ve only been a part of this for four parties so my history with the once-a-year-ers is limited but I too beam with delight at seeing their faces at the door.
There is a connection of course. In my partner’s case it stretches back over decades and contains memories of times past and shared experiences. In mine the “times past” are the last three parties and the “shared experiences” are mostly party chats. Still, the sight of a familiar face wreathed in a grin and the knowledge that the smiler has traveled many miles and braved the Bay Bridge traffic to get to us is enough to engender feelings of warmth and connection in the hosts’ breast.
Celebrating the new year with friends, sharing feelings of friendship and just generally making contact with others who we like and like to share good times with is reward enough for the work of giving a party.
When I think about friends who only appear once a year it seems strange that a friendship can be maintained with that little contact. On the other hand my feelings about them are warm and welcoming and the low frequency of interaction just adds spice to the current one.
There is another side to an annual affair of mostly the same people as we grow older. Every year some new invitees attend, people with whom we have become friendly enough to want to share the welcoming of the new year. We love it when new people come and renew the juices of the old crowd but too often room for the newbies has been made by the passing of some old and dear friends.
Welcoming the new year with friends renews hope and promise and provides the emotional payment of positive energy we need to move forward with some grace and optimism.
New Year’s Day comes but once a year and we treasure the friends who do the same.