Many years ago, not too long after we were married, Sal and I were talking about how fortunate we are to have some really lovely and caring friends. As summer began to flow into fall that year, we would periodically pick up the thread of this conversation. Finally one of us, I don’t remember which, said how wonderful it would be to have a year-end party, a big open house as a way to say “Thank You” to our friends – a celebration of life gathering. Then we sat down and got serious about planning what has become our almost- annual Celebration Of Life Thank You Party. One after another, ideas popped into our heads and out of our mouths.
People get so stressed leading up to Christmas so let’s make it on the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s.
Let’s make it on Saturday so most people wont have to get up for work the next day.
Around that time people want to have their nights free; we can make it for the afternoon.
If we do it between 2 and 6, people can sleep in or do their errands.
Life is filled with so many “shoulds;” flexibility is important. People can come and go or come and stay.
This is a time for family. Children and our friends’ friends are welcome.
We can open up the upstairs bedrooms so kids have a place to play,
Watch TV, color or read and folks can have a quiet space to sit and talk.
Food! Since we both like to cook, we can make everything ourselves and create dishes that aren’t the usual holiday fare.
Healthy! Since December has been filled with food that is rich, tantilyzingly
tasty and highly caloric, we can make healthy, yummy creations that are easier on the waistline. And except for the lethally, luscious chocolate, chocolate cookies I bake only once a year to share with friends, everything else from Sal’s poached salmon to my crustless veggie quiches and lean zesty meatballs are mostly nutritiously delicious.
Although we have alcohol, let’s offer a refreshing alternative. And from that idea came Sal’s Progressive, Fruity, Refreshing, No Sugar Punch! YUM!!!
This is our home and we open it only to those people whom we like. Some may be friends we’ve known for years, and some are new people we’ve recently met, who resonate with us.
Sharing. We hope some of our friends will meet other friends of ours and be able to share ideas, information, stories and just enjoy a conversation.
No stress. We strive to create a casual atmosphere where people can just have a nosh, relax and hang out for a while.
So, here we are, over 20 years after our first Celebration Of Life Gathering. Some of our friends have come most of those years, some haven’t be able to come for a few years and showed up this year, and new friends came this year, too. Our townhouse is modest and filled with artwork, mine and other people’s, too, so it can get a bit crowded. Still everyone seemed to have a good time. It always takes lots of work and planning, but letting our friends know how much we appreciate them is more than worth the effort! And that is really the objective: a thank-you to those people who make our life richer because they’re in it.
I can imagine many of you show your friends how much you appreciate them in all kinds of ways, too. If you’d like to share them, please leave a comment on the blog or on my Facebook page. 
Thank you to all and to all a Happy, Healthy 2018. Kindness counts. And it’s good for the heart, too!