New Year’s Eve and Chinese Food. This has been our tradition for as long as I can remember. When we were young my parents would take my sister and me. I don’t know why they wanted Chinese. We went to the local restuarant in Cranston. (It’s still my favorite). I always remember feeling so fancy and grown-up ordering my Shirley Temple When we first started going I was the pickiest eater in the world (There you have it dad. Me admitting it, in writing.) I would have chicken noodle soup and I don’t think I ate anything off the Pu Pu Platter. My parents and sister always feasted as if it were the last meal.
But what I remember most is all the laughs and the fun we had. Sometimes we would go right home after. Other times we would drive around and see the still-up Christmas lights. There was so much magic in the back of my parents’ Oldsmobile station wagon. I felt like life was perfect and we were the luckiest people in the world. As we got older and busier we always went out for Chinese food, even as we moved out and began our own families. It’s such an important tradition, and the laughs never stopped.
But 2020 was the year when nothing was normal. We couldn’t be together so I picked up takeout and delivered it to my parents,- sans Shirley Temple. Instead of setting normal goals for 2021, -lose 30 lbs, be more present, the same old song as every year -, all I wanted was to do more for my friends and my neighbors. I wanted to instill the values in my kids that my parents instilled in my sister and me, -love, respect, and helping others. I wanted to make more donations to non-profits that are important to us, make real change in the community, and go to bed every night knowing I made a positive difference in someone’s life. After surviving 2020 pretty unscathed, and knowing how lucky we were, I want to show my thankfulness by helping others.
New Years’ resolutions are always the same; it never changes. I always have big plans of doing big gestures and I never follow through. But 2020 reminded me that I just want my kids to see how fortunate we are and be aware of all we have. Not everyone has the same experience. 2020 taught me that the only way to show them is leading by example. I hoped it is a lesson I never forget.