Fireworks and sparkling grape juice, off-key "Auld Lang Syne" tunes, a large falling ball, horns and hugs and kisses ushered in a new year. Do you have dreams and hopes for 2015? Whatever your plans for the new year, make family and loved ones a priority with lots of special time and celebrations to treasure for much longer than 365 days.
Make the most of every moment of 2015. Make every day a holiday with creations of your own or some of the following wild and zany ones.
Trivia Day - Celebrate tantalizing tidbits of random information about family members with a fun game of questions and answers. Encourage each family member to write 10 or more questions about his or her life on individual note cards - questions with answers that are trivial, minutia bits of facts about that person, like, "How old was Jessica when she got her ears pierced?" Place all the cards in a basket and take turns reading one card at a time. The person who shouts out the correct answer to a family member's question the fastest gets 1 point. The person with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. Try it on more than one occasion this month to refresh your family's trivia knowledge.
National English Toffee Day - Grab the family for a dessert-making afternoon to celebrate this yummy day. Beat 3/4 cup of butter and 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 egg yolk. On low speed, add 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Press the combined flour mixture into the bottom of a greased 9-by-13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
Remove from the oven and prepare the filling. Heat one 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until bubbly, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir for 5 more minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla.
Spread over the baked layer and bake for 10 minutes or until the top is golden. Sprinkle one 12-ounce package of semisweet chocolate pieces on top and put back into the oven for about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to smooth out the softened chocolate evenly over the top. Sprinkle 1 cup of Heath brand brickle bits over the baked layer. Cool completely, then cut into small squares.
Appendectomy Day - You heard it right: There's a holiday to celebrate the first documented appendectomy! Maybe that's not every family's desired holiday for rejoicing, but you can celebrate good health with this fun activity, combined with a few New Year's resolutions. Have each person lie on a large strip of paper (bulletin board paper or strips of freezer paper taped together), and have another family member trace their outline. With crayons or markers, complete the drawings. In the margins, write plans for good health in the new year - physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially - and ways to achieve those for a healthy you in 2015.
Drinking Straw Day - Combine this fun holiday with Roller Skates Birthday and visit one of my very favorite places in Statesboro, Sonic. Take the family one afternoon during Happy Hour for half-price sodas and slushies. Drink with straws, and hopefully you'll see a carhop on skates on the day you choose to visit.
Penguin Day - Did you know that, according to penguinworld.com, there are 17 different species of penguins? Check out the site for adorable pictures of these aquatic, flightless birds, and see how many names you recognize. Try a penguin relay outside with the family by adding a pair of leggings or tight pants on top of another pair of pants. Roll the waistband and top of the leggings down so that the knees are more or less held together by the outside pants. Then have a race to see who can waddle the fastest to the finish line. Be careful not to topple over! End the celebration with one of many children's books or movies about penguins.
I pray that the year 2014 was a blessed one for your family and that the anticipation of a new year brings happiness to those you love. Be grateful and compassionate in the days ahead, and make memories with family every day of the year. Happy New Year!
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.