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Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Eve 2009

I have to admit that my heart was not into the celebration on New Year's Eve.

Even as I mixed salads and iced a Texas sheet cake; even as I greeted friends as they arrived for an evening of food and fun together at church; even as I watched the fireworks and joined in the hugs and well wishes for a great year in 2010 ... The tears were always near the surface and thoughts of my boys who did not make it home in 2009 weighed heavily on my heart.

To squelch the sadness and its accompanying guilt (because in my heart I knew I had so much for which to be grateful) I recounted out loud to my children the wonderful blessings God provided in 2009: New home; new school; new friends; new church; many wonderful new memories and experiences during our first year living in Iquique. Truly, I was and am thankful and humbled by His goodness to us.

I spent quite awhile holding our colleagues' new baby in an effort to distract my thoughts from the two little boys I missed holding in my arms. And eventually, good company and conversation pulled me away from the sadness and I was able to enjoy the anticipation of the evening. An hour before midnight, our group walked down the steep hill to the beach and joined the crowd eagerly awaiting the fireworks and toasting in the New Year.

It was like a city-wide tailgating party. Families set up their folding tables and produced their glass flutes and champagne bottles while children raced about in festive wigs and hats. Mischievous boys threw noisy poppers in the streets and eager little girls twirled in their fancy dresses or slid by on stiff new roller skates, fresh out of their Christmas wrapping.

Pedro and I loved watching the thrill on Owen's face as his boyish love for noise and excitement absorbed all the activity around him and spilled over into crazy antics and enthusiasm of his own. Our girls were a little more reserved, perhaps somewhat overwhelmed by the feverish pitch around us. They snuggled close as we sat on the damp grass and waited for the countdown to 2010.

The custom in Chile is to embrace everyone you know following the stroke of midnight, wishing them all the best for the New Year. This is true whether it is that same night or weeks later! In our case, the flurry of hugs began even while the fireworks were blazing across the sky. Eventually we gave up trying to watch in favor of being culturally polite and joining in the hugging frenzy.

Shortly after we were among the first from our group to begin the walk back through the crowd and up the hill to church, stepping through confetti and around discarded bottles and the occasional spill. Pedro somehow spotted our new friends from the girls' school and we stopped for hugs and New Year's greetings with them as well. It was quite the night!

Soon we were back at church and gathered around the tables once again for dessert, only this time it was the children with all the nervous energy while the adults were winding down. Shortly after 1 a.m. our family said our goodbyes and headed home. We were only the second family to do so, but by 2 a.m. our kids were tucked in and soundly asleep. I took a minute to kiss each soft cheek and pray over each one, asking God's special blessing in this coming year. Once in my own bed, I asked for just one more thing: that very, very soon I would have two more sleeping sons to kiss goodnight.

It is my dearest wish and hope to begin this New Year.

1 comment:

sheri wiebe said...

You just make me cry...every day I pray that my little girl will be home soon. Though I know that it can't possibly be sooner than 4-5 months, but please, good news soon. All these children need a mama! I check your blog daily to see if you have good news!