A Celebration Tradition by Jody Casella

I am not good at the celebrating part of celebrations.

I'm the planner, the preparer, the checker-offer-of-the lists, the run around the house picker upper, the thrower together of multiple casseroles. And after the celebration is over, I'm cleaning it all up and on to planning the next thing.

The part in the middle, the part where you actually stop and enjoy the celebration--that's the part I am not so good at.

There is one time of year, though, that I do pause. I don't write. I don't read. I stop making lists and worrying about to-dos and simply enjoy my company. For one week every year, after the Christmas guests have left, another set of visitors descends upon our house to celebrate New Year's. We've been hosting this gathering--basically an extended, three-family slumber party--for 12 years.

The tradition started the way many traditions do, not realizing it was going to be a tradition. The three families met when the kids were in preschool and then one family moved several states away. That was the year 9/11 happened, and by New Year's, we were all missing each other and wanting to reconnect.

The kids fell back to playing as if they'd never been apart. The adults caught up. We made tons of food. We played games. We went on a hike. Shopped. Watched football. And toasted in 2002, vowing to do it all again forever after.

And somehow we have.

We play.

And make messes.

And eat tons of food.

We go on hikes.

Every year it is the same.

We watch the New Year's Rockin' Eve Countdown on TV and play a marathon game of Phase Ten. Deb records everyone's resolutions and reminds us the next year what we resolved to do the year before.

The fathers (miraculously) win the father/son football game.

Tim brings a yard o' beef.

And Marianne creates some kind of matching outfit deal for the kids.

Things change too and we marvel at it. The oldest of the kids is now twenty. The baby is in middle school. We've moved houses and changed jobs.

Time marches marches marches on.

Every year we wonder if this will be the year the kids don't return home, we all go our separate ways and the celebration peters out.

Maybe that will happen one of these days.

But not this year.


  1. This is wonderful, Jody! We have a similar post-Christmas tradition with two families whose children grew up with ours. Happy Holidays!

    1. Thanks, Nancy. Happy holidays to you too! You're my celebration mentor now (after reading your post).

  2. Aww. Your post gave me chills. Love the photos! Happy holidays!

  3. Oh Jody, this made me cry happy tears! See you soon, friend.

  4. So great you have been able to keep this alive and memorable for so long. When my mom died, we had no idea what a lynchpin she was for family celebrations and we've found that since her passing, the strings holding together celebrations like Thanksgiving are growing weaker every year,

  5. Replies
    1. I meant to say, thanks, to everyone, and happy holidays to all, and a PS to Marianne--only 13 more days...

  6. This is awesome!! When I was a kid, we did this with my parents' friends and their kids for years, but I think the year I turned 14 or 15 was the last year. Such amazing memories!

  7. Great post! Those traditions are priceless!


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