Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!
Water, boats, and fire - what more could a boy ask for? Nothing! My six-year old is so enamored of this tradition that I have adapted from All Year Round that he asks on nearly every holiday - "Is this the day we make the pool and light the boats?"

Every year since before he was even born I have gone out on December 31st in search of clumps of moss - a vital component to the construction of our pool that we sail our New Year's Eve boats on. This year was actually easy - the girls and I had constructed a moss garden for a botany session this past year and I was able to get it from beneath the snow right out on our deck. I thawed it for a bit in a bin in the bathtub and came out with two respectable clumps of moss. Moss might be a primitive plant but I am impressed! The moss becomes the islands for boats to sail around - I create a base layer with stones and assorted sea shells and then put the moss on top.

I used to have a beautiful blue enamel bowl which has fallen victim to the charms of childhood - in other words I haven't seen it in years and it will probably be unearthed in the backyard in another hundred years from now - so I have made do with one of my large shallow mixing bowls. The bowl is set on what was our Advent wreath.
The making of the boats is a tradition in itself as all the children try to crack their walnuts exactly in half. I took the wick out of several tea light candles - set them in the shells and then poured melted wax back around the wick - this worked even better than the small birthday candles I usually use.
The shells placed around the bowl are all inscribed with a little message - when your boat floats closest to a shell - that's yours to keep and maybe inspire for the New Year. In past years I've made little scrolls attached with gold thread.

Of course the tradition would not be complete without a fair amount of shoving, sinking of boats, disappointment when wet candles will not relight and even a burnt finger or two (just one this year). New to the festivities is the 14 year-old in the background asking "Do I have to do this?" This question coming on the tales of being asked whether said 14 year-old could have a cup of coffee at 9:00 pm. "Yes" to the first, a resounding "no" to the second.

But there is something just a little bit magical when the boats are burning with their little light shining on the shells and stones beneath - I think it reminds us that our year is filled possibility - uncharted waters and new islands to explore!