Our end-of-year celebration dinner

29 December 2015

Hello, friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!

Yesterday we waved goodbye to John’s family after several days together at our home. When planning for this visit several months ago, I have to say, at the same time as I was completely gung-ho (I will almost NEVER say no to loved ones coming to visit us!) I was also a little nervous, because I didn’t know how tired I would be at 37 weeks pregnant or how eight adults and two littles would feel about sharing a house for several days. I’m happy to say, however, that despite the lack of sun (but with the bonus of balmy temperatures in the mid-70s!), our time together was really special. John and I loved seeing our niece and nephew, we loved getting outside every day (our crew walked eight miles on Sunday!!), and it was very sweet to have so much time to just chat with our wise siblings and siblings-in-law as we face down baby girl’s due date.

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Clearly we need to clean our windows… but this one was too good not to share! Nephew was a big fan of Uncle John :)

I usually feel a bit blue after we say goodbye to family, but this week holds so much promise and potential that it’s hard to feel down. I have most of the week off work and am planning to use the time to 1) relax and 2) prepare for the new year. I’m excited to get ahead on an exciting EFM series that will be debuting soon, share where I am with goal setting, finish up a few projects for our girl’s room, and place a last big Amazon order for the supplies we want to have before she arrives. And best of all, tomorrow night John and I have reservations for our end-of-year celebration dinner!

This dinner is a fairly new tradition for us: we just started it last year, inspired by several couples we love. Everyone seems to have their own take on the concept, but we keep things fairly simple. We choose a restaurant with a quiet atmosphere that lends itself to a leisurely dinner. (Bonus points for choosing a spot you don’t go to often, so it feels like more of a special occasion!) You certainly could have your celebration dinner at home, but I find that it’s easier to concentrate, have a deeper conversation, and get into dreaming mode when I’m out of my normal environment.

We bring a notebook and a pen and a few questions to guide us as we reflect and look forward. A few we used last year or will be trying tomorrow:

— What did our family do well this year? What went well for us?
— Where did our family struggle this year? What went poorly for us?
— Where do we want to travel in 2016? We brainstorm possible locations, and start to plot out general months for each trip as we narrow things down.
— Where should we give this year’s charitable grant?
— What are our goals for 2016?
— What new things do we want to try, what adventures do we want to have, or what traditions do we want to continue or start next year?
— How will we define success next year?
— What about our life now do we most want to preserve and carry with us into the new year?

That last question has especially been on my mind and will be informing my goals in a big way with our girl due to arrive very soon. It’s good to have a few different questions, though, as you never know which will resonate and spark the most conversation! Some of these could easily keep us talking for an hour.

And that’s pretty much it! Nothing too complicated, but I think there’s something really important about setting aside time to cheer each other (and your union!) on, to mark progress, and to put the brakes on things that are frustrating you before they become problems.

Do you do your own version of an end-of-year celebration dinner? I’d love to hear!!

P.S. I plan to be back on the blog every day this week, with my PowerSheets progress tomorrow, my 2015 year in review on Thursday, and my 2016 inspiration board on Friday! 2016 goals will go up on Monday.

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December 29, 2015 9:52 am

I love those questions, but especially the last three! I think setting up a definition for success now, and putting it in writing, will be beneficial for the end of the year when my husband and I look back and think “this year was tough,” or “I didn’t meet all of my goals, what a failure.” For example, today, I am tempted to say 2015 was not a successful year, but I think I need to look back at why I set the goals I did before I can actually say that. And that last question is perfect for you, but is also something that has been on my mind when I have a great weekend. I have been trying to ask myself what was great about it and how can I have more of that good feeling throughout the week when the day to day starts feeling mundane?
Sorry this comment is so long, but for the first time since 2008 (when I started setting yearly goals) I haven’t felt the desire to want to set goals for the next year, so I am trying to find that motivation and I really think talking about these questions with my husband will help.

December 29, 2015 11:37 am

Absolutely love this idea and these questions. So intentional and well thought-out! We’ve done some of this general conversation in the last week, but I’d love to sit down and really dig deep and document it all!

December 30, 2015 11:27 am

I was reviewing my goals for 2015 (saved in my gmail as a “saved draft”) and it was very helpful to dig around and figure out why some goals worked and how we can improved in 2016! I love planning trips and am trying to look at my goals this year in the same light, what can I do to get the most adventure, joy, rest, peace out of it?

thanks for sharing!