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New Year, New Traditions

January 1, 2021- The first day of the new year. Usually a time for reflecting on what we have accomplished in the previous year and what we are looking forward to in the coming months. And while we certainly tried to incorporate those highlights into our day, it also felt like 2021 was deserving of something more.

We started our day with breakfast by the outdoor fire pit. Kevin baked muffins and we all enjoyed hot beverages.

Kevin and Grayson enjoying fireside breakfast.

A few months ago our espresso machine ‘blew up’ – as in sparks and hot water spewed everywhere! And with four kids and no coffeeshop visits these days this appliance needed replaced-pronto. So, in December we welcomed ‘Mary Anne’ to our family (named after Mike Mulligan’s steam shovel). She is plumbed directly into our water lines and (with the help of Kevin) makes delicious lattes, mochas, and hot chocolates.

Mary Anne – The Italian espresso machine.

After a good breakfast and hot beverages it was time to get ready for our swim.

Ainsley soaking up some sunshine before while waiting for her hot chocolate to cool.

Locally, in more ordinary years, our local lake communities host New Year’s Day swims – usually as fundraisers. This year, the local events were all cancelled-crowds on beaches swimming and panting as they enter icy waters isn’t great for keeping viral spread to a minimum. But, as luck would have it, we live right on a body of water- The Hudson River. So, this year, we organized our family’s own Polar Plunge.

Living in upstate New York, it’s unpredictable if the waters will be frozen or open the first day of the year. Our section of the river was frozen. So before we could plunge, we first had to break up the ice. Rayleigh threw a stone in hopes of breaking the ice – the stone shattered and there were rock shards all across the surface of the ice. Clearly this was not a thin layer of ice we were dealing with! I came to the river’s edge wielding a hockey stick as an ice beater. This approach was much more successful.

Kelsey breaking up enough ice that our brave plungers could fit into the river.

After a minute to get ourselves amped up enough to ‘take the plunge’ we were ready to swim- by this time only 4 of us were brave enough to get dressed in swimsuits – Ainlsey, Dillon, Kevin and myself.

Dillon volunteered to go in first.

Dillon was the first into the water on New Year’s Day 2021.

Kevin was next… the cold water was a bit shocking and he lost his footing on the slippery rocks since his toes were frozen.

Kevin doing the 2021 Polar Plunge.

Ainsley was up next… but had decided her mermaid tendencies were more suited for warm weather adventures. So that left me. Unfortunately, my first attempt… and second attempt… were subpar. I thought I could duck down into the water and get myself submerged… but the water wasn’t deep enough so I felt like I’d cheated and ended up going back down to the river a few minutes later for a true plunge. Here’s my third attempt – I went with Kevin’s push-up style approach.

Kelsey finally getting all the way under the water.

While we were all glad we had this opportunity- I would be lying to say that we didn’t all question our judgements that day.

Not everything was a new tradition. Kevin and I both grew up in Pennsylvania where Pennsylvania Dutch traditions are strong. The traditional New Year’s Day meal is pork and sauerkraut.

Pork and sauerkraut – the traditional German New Year’s Day meal.

Legend holds that you wish everyone around the table as many good blessings as shreds of cabbage in the pot. This year the kids and I made our own sauerkraut. We all agreed it was delicious.

Ainsley and Dillon helping to soften the shredded cabbage with some caraway seeds.

After a yummy traditional dinner, we had one last activity. We skated on our ice rink in the dark. Earlier in the day we had strung the lights around the rink and so New Year’s night was a great time for a test run of night skating.

Kevin and Kelsey on the ice rink at night.

Happy New Year everyone-may your year have as many blessings as we had shreds of cabbage in our roasting pan.

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