Welcoming in a New Year in a new Country! Pretty significant moment for anyone…especially a 15-year-old girl from Germany! It marks a turning point for Lara’s visit to America… she’s halfway through her exchange student program!
We celebrate New Year’s Eve with an annual Open House Party… opening our doors to friends and family and clients! This year was our 9th annual event and we typically prepare for it for 2 days. Lara and Brittany really got into the spirit of it all by cleaning up, setting up the main table for food and hanging snowflakes from the ceiling!
Just as we were almost done, a large box arrived from Germany. It was full of gifts for Christmas from Lara’s mother! What a great surprise! We’ve learned packaged from Germany take 2…sometimes 3-weeks to get here so we knew our gifts to Germany and gift from Germany were NOT going to make the Christmas deadline. 🙂 So, we took a break mid-day and opened the box full of beautifully decorated packages. There were also German foods inside that Lara was drolling over! I guess she misses some of those things!
Lara’s mom suggested we play a game with dice to open the gifts, since none were specifically for one person. It was like an elephant-gift-exchange with a little twist! One gift was specifically for Travis and another specifically for the family. They were calendars with our names on them! So clever! Each month has a different theme and a different way our name is put on the photo. Lara also got us a German calendar for our office that has beautiful pictures of Germany on it! Other gifts included items from Hard Rock Cafe in Hamburg, a towel that says ‘Hamburg”, placemats with maps and photos of Germany and Hamburg! So many things we are so thankful for! Many of the gifts will help us to continue learning about Lara’s homeland!
At 7:30pm, the party began..and the kids were already starting the board game “Quelf”. And Lara got to meet another family member…Amy. Amy is Terry’s children’s half-sister. I know, a little confusing so let me explain. Terry was married to Connie and had 3 children. Then Connie remarried and had Amy and Terry remarried and we had Travis and Brittany. So, my kids call Amy their Sister’s Sister…which she is technically. But we all just consider her “one of the kids”. A few friends and relatives came by and it was fairly quiet until around 9:00 or 9:30p when more people showed up. We average about 80 people every year for the past 5 years or so. This year, three families were on a vacation, a few more went north to play in the snow and several others decided to make it a quiet night at home. Several others RSVP’d they would be here but didn’t make it. So our overall count for the night was only 35. But that didn’t really matter because the ones that were here were so much fun and I was so happy to spend time with everyone!
At midnight, we had sparklers to light, sparkling juice… thanks to the Drolet’s… and a lot of hugs! Of course, our very close friend Paula spent midnight under a table making her 12 wishes but came out shortly afterwards! Paula is from Peru and has a custom to eat 12 grapes under a table at Midnight on New Year’s Eve and make 12 wishes. She did it last year too and all her wishes came true so she was under the table again this year! It was fun to have someone from Peru and someone from Germany here on the same night!!!
Lara’s review of New Year’s Eve in America is this… “In America, everyone parties BEFORE Midnight and then goes home. In Germany, we wait for Midnight and then it’s party time!” She said her other exchange student friends were saying the same thing the next day on Facebook. How funny!!!
The kids went to bed around 1:30am, I stayed up cleaning till 3am because we only had one day to get ready for the cruise we were taking on January 2nd…and I didn’t want to be cleaning up when I needed to get ready for a vacation! Of course…. THAT will be the next Blog Post… our cruise!!!!!!!!
Enjoy the photos below!