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Parent Articles

New Year's Eve: A Family Celebration

By Chick Moorman


Some parents see New Year's Eve as an opportunity to get away from the family to celebrate in private or with friends. Going out to dinner, attending parties, and emptying bottles seems to be the order of the day and night. I recommend another alternative, one that can help your family grow closer. Spend New Year's Eve together. It's an ideal time to celebrateconnectedness, reflect on the past year, and look ahead to the future.

For our family, deciding what treats to purchase, shopping together, and decorating occupied much of the day that leads up to the big evening. Dinner and card games filled the early evening. When interest in games died down, we assembled in the living room, sat in a circle, and began the most meaningful part of our New Year's Eve together, "Topic Talk."

Topics are ideas we dream up to help structure our conversation. One family member suggests a topic like "A new friend I made this year" or "My favorite song this year." We each took a turn, responding orally to the topic, telling as much as we choose. Listeners do simply that -- listen until everyone has responded. When each person has had an opportunity to respond to the topic, we asked questions and elaborated on our remarks. Topics we have used in the past that have helped us get in touch with each other and reflect on the previous year include: My favorite book this year; Something I did that I am proud of; Something I wish I could do over; My favorite place I visited this year; Something I bought for myself; Something I did for others.

At 11:00 o'clock we end Topic Talk and got out "Our Goals." A list of goals were shared and recorded a year earlier and preserved in a special drawer in my desk. Again, we took turns reading our goals from the preceding year and telling whether or not we reached them. One New Year's Eve we shared how we did on the following:

Jenny: Go to horseback riding camp.
Matt: Get a medal in wrestling.
Randy: Make the high school baseball team.
Me: Finish my manuscript on "Talk Sense To Yourself."

After sharing in depth about how we achieved or didn't achieve goals, we set new ones for the upcoming year. Jenny acted as recorder and took down our statements as they were dictated. The goals were then put away until our next New Year's Eve celebration.

As the time nears midnight, we turned on the TV and counted down the minutes and seconds. The traditional hugs, kisses, and noisemaking were included in our celebration.

Adapt this idea to fit you and your family. Gather your family together and lead off the New Year’s celebration by sharing your goal for the new year -- to promote togetherness and build family spirit.

Chick Moorman is the author of "Parent Talk: How To Talk To Your Child In Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility," and "Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish A Child's Spirit."