Happy New Year 2012!
This photo is not from my Quilt Group! My mom and I were having some fun with other celebrating residents on New Year's Eve, afternoon. But seeing the residents tooting horns and swaying to Auld Lang Syne, made me decide I needed a New Year's theme for my first gathering of the New Year.
In the two years that I've gathered folks at the center for our sharing group, I've only forgotten the Quilt twice. Not a good way to start the new year. I don't realize how much warmth and coziness that silly quilt adds to our group, until it's missing.
But we gathered around the table anyway, which was covered with the "New Year!" news clippings, noise makers and old photos of celebrations. An antique silk top hat sat in the center as a reminder of formal New Year's celebrations from the past.
Harriett, is always game for trying a theme related instrument, game or piece of costume. She placed this hat on her head. "I'd like to have a couple 8x10 glossies of this one, please!" She teased as I clicked the camera.
The top hat was our biggest conversation starter. Harriett placed the hat back on the table and presented a thought to the others. "I think this hat could tell us some stories. What do you think?" I told her the only thing I knew about the hat's history was that it came from my husband's family. The label inside reads, "Starr & Cannon CO, Grand Rapids, Mich." But Harriett closed her eyes a moment, then opened them with a smile. "I think the hat belonged to a milkman, who wore his white uniform every day. But on New Year's Day, he put this hat on his head and made his deliveries!"
All I can do is sigh at moments like this. When do we get the chance to look at an object and just imagine its' past?
Poems and Quizzes
This group surprises me. I can prepare and plan, but I never know which direction we will go.
A year ago the group loved the quiz questions with trivia about how many tons of trash are cleaned up in Times Square each year, or what country celebrates at midnight by eating 12 grapes!
But there was no interest in the quiz. This child's poem about the excitement of a whole new year ahead...a blank slate, drew much more attention. Although we all agreed, kids don't really care about the idea of a New Year!!
Everyone in this photo has a past filled with stories! All the memories that are ever shared, (whether the teller is 20 years old or 90 with Alzheimer's) become changed with time. It doesn't matter how accurate or true, it just matters that the face sharing the memory is glowing with warmth. I was lucky enough to witness a number of glowing faces on this day.
Catherine remembered years ago, being in Mexico on New Year's Eve and getting up in the night to see Haley's Comet. Rita remembered the formal dances and how her mother reminded her brothers to make sure she was asked to dance. Harriett remembered how the dance floor emptied when she and her brother would dance. "He was an incredible dancer...I was just a good follower." Vivian remembered a Nickelodeon at their school dances...and we were off on a juke box tangent.
We all remembered Auld Lang Syne being part of past celebrations. I laughed at never remembering the words, but I started to sing. Immediately the others joined in, with voices as soft as memory itself. I was touched. I'm sure there were blanks and wrong words thrown in, but all I could hear was a sweet blur of voices. When we finished, we all paused and sort of smiled. "Hey. That was good."
What Did I Learn?
Thinking about the New Year with the Quilt Group is not really about the New Year at all! I had thought about making a list of all our resolutions, but I quickly realized, this gathering was about reflecting a little on the past and living in the moment. Happy New Day!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.