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Here’s to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here’s to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold. ~ Unknown author

For most people, New Year’s Eve marks the final hurrah and ending to the holiday season. It is a time to celebrate, attend parties, and ring in the New Year with family and friends.  The last of the holiday indulgences and final cookie devouring occurs just as folks are putting the finishing touches on their new year’s resolution lists. At midnight, when the famous ball drops in Times Square, families jump, cheer, kiss and welcome in the New Year with glee and celebration!

Before the clock strikes midnight though, New Year’s Eve is a great opportunity to reflect on the closing year. Reflections help us ponder the good memories, the happy events that occurred, and they provide us a chance to think about what we could do differently in the coming year to be a better person.

A few years ago, my family and I began a special New Year’s tradition to help us reflect and remember “the good things that happened this past year.” We created a “New Year’s Happiness Jar”, similar to a family journal, that captures special happy and proud moments in our family throughout the year.  My parents, my three brothers, and I can contribute a memory to the jar at any time during the year. We smile as the jar gets fuller and fuller as the year goes on.

The memories are hand written on a piece of colorful paper and kept secret and sealed in a jar until New Year’s Eve.  Generally, the memories are one short sentence of congratulations, a reflection of a special event and the date, a happy story of a fun family excursion, or a simple “thank you” to one of us for a random act of kindness.

One never knows what we will find when we read the little pieces of paper that capture special thoughts about events that shaped our lives the past year. 

Before our traditional New Year’s Eve Japanese hibachi dinner, our family gathers around the living room to reveal the unique memories and reflect on the year.  Together, we dump out the little pieces of paper and begin reading them one by one.  With each memory, we pause and reminisce over the happy times, recall family trips, celebrate the awards and accomplishments once again, and laugh at some of the stories and memories we collected all year long.

Reading the little joys aloud as a family is one of our most treasured family events.

After reflecting on the year that is almost over, we snap a few photos of the memories and empty the jar.  Together, we prepare ourselves for the New Year ahead and prepare the jar for new memories.  The excitement fills the air as we start anew and look forward to all that the next year will bring.

Perhaps my family’s tradition will spark an idea for your family to start a New Year Happiness Jar. Here’s to capturing special moments, happy memories and joyful thoughts all year long. 

I wish you peace, good health, laughter and happiness in 2019! 

We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and the first chapter is New Year’s Day. ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

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