Thursday, January 1, 2009

The New Year's Bonfire Complete

I cooked. Almost all day I cooked, thinking I didn't have enough food prepared. What was I thinking? There was so much that we added a leaf to the table and even then it was full of all good things--turkey, ham, baked beans, potato salad, pasta salad, rolls, cheese balls of several varieties, crackers, pickles, desserts, and more.

I cleaned. The house looked beautiful and I forgot to take photos! The table was beautiful and did I take a picture? Of course not.

I napped. Or tried to, knowing it would be early morning hours before we slept again.

And then our guests began arriving. We talked, sipped wine and beer and ate and at 8pm Larry lit the fire.

It was glorious, a fully-loaded pyre that sent flames 20 feet or more into the crystal cold night air. There was no wind, and a high pressure system sent the smoke and ash straight up so for the first time in my memory we were not dodging the shifting smoke.

Our gathering was not so large this year, but the spirits of the group more than made up for it. I think we had about 20 people all together, and I had food enough for three times that amount--not that I overdid it or anything, but I won't be cooking much in the coming week...or maybe month.

Close to midnight Hannah brought out the basket of troubles and I checked my emails one last time to be sure we'd gotten all the messages. One by one the messages were hurled to the flames.

James had quite a few he wanted to burn, and he was happy to toss the emailed ones too.

Bits of paper smoldered and then ignited, almost instantly turning to ash. It's hard to describe the feeling that comes with seeing the challenges of so many people turning flare and disappear into the flames.
Does it really work? James wanted to know. He was very serious; even at 7 years old he had several things he wanted to burn. His question is not easy to answer, especially to a child who is still in the concrete phase of mental development.
"You wrote it down, and you burned it," I told him, "so for now your problem is gone. It may come back, but you may be able to stop that from happening by what you do." He thought about that for a while. I'm not sure he understood completely, but the explanation also helped me understand why we perform this annual ritual. Burning the problems erases them for the time being. For a little while, I have control over the forces in my life. There is power in that thought.
To all of you who sent messages, please know that your emails have been well and truly burned, each with a thought and a prayer behind it that your year will be restful, peaceful, joyful and love-filled.


City Mouse said...

Good food, good people, and a good bonfire - What a wonderful start to the year. The bonfire looks terrific! Best wishes and all good thoughts for a wonderful 2009!

Mary said...

I love your comments on burning our troubles, having control over them, at least for now. TLC friends have been having a discussion of Guatemalan worry dolls. I just remembered a saying I used to have on my bedroom door about giving your worries to God "He'll be up all night anyway."
As for all the cooking, perhaps we may have to define you as an over-achiever, but what a great area for over-achieving!!
Wish I lived closer!

Susan said...

It sounds like a wonderful time, and I love the photos!

I hope whatever your troubles were, their ashes are now scattered into nothing: hurrah good friends and family, and for a new year!

Happy 2009!

Sean said...

Always great to read of this event from you. Best wishes to you and yours.


Anonymous said...

We did our little fire but we didn't think to burn our troubles! I'd like to think that we don't have any! Life is good and except for Heaven, better than the alternative!
Happy New Year, Sue!
Wendy aka Bayou Woman

Sue said...

Hi Granny Sue
Thanks for posting the bonfire photos. I love hearing of your tradition each year. We spent the night with family -- burning chicken, steak, and cheeseballs over fondue. :)
My very best wishes to you and yours in 2009. Many thanks for this consistently interesting blog.

Granny Sue said...

You were all there with me, at least in spirit. It was so much fun, and part of the fun was deciding which pictures to share with you. The stars were incredibly bright and Orion stood guard over us with his bow. It was very, very cold--in the teens--but the fire was so warm and the company so good that we hardly felt it.

My Vancouver said...

Hi Su,

Thanks for posting the photos. It was great to imagine my troubles vanishing in the fire.


Laura said...

I, too, found myself so busy "hosting" this holiday season that I forgot to take photos--I guess the memories are better anyway.
Loved hearing about the New Year's Celebration. We celebrated with family and then had friends and family over for fun on the first.
Happy New Year!

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