Movie Review: Sing

My grandsons Joey and Oliver joined me this afternoon in watching a new release at the movie theater. Neither boy had high energy today, after experiencing a full week, and rather than skating or playing at House of Bounce, they opted to watch a movie. We had seen trailers for Sing and all of us agreed we wanted to check out this animated film. 

Sing features the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Seth McFarlane, Reese Witherspoon, Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Nick Kroll, Garth Jennings and Scarlett Johansson. This newest animation from Illumination was directed by Christophe Lourdelet. The movie is rated PG for some rude humor and has a run time of 1 hour and 48 minutes. 

Buster Moon (McConaughey), an optimistic koala bear, is the owner of a theater that he has loved since he was six years old. His father worked hard so that Buster could purchase the aging building. However, years of lackluster productions has tarnished the theater’s glory and brought Buster to the brink of financial ruin. 

In an attempt to save his crumbling theater, and his crumbling life, Buster stakes all he has on one grand, final show…a singing competition, with a monetary award. Buster’s ancient assistant, Mrs. Crawly (Jennings), inadvertently changes the prize amount from $1,000 to $100,000…and suddenly there’s a long line of eager participants ready to audition. 

Buster narrows the competition down to a handful of singers: overwhelmed mom Rosita (Witherspoon), who is paired up with the flashy, more outgoing Gunter (Kroll), Mike (McFarlane) the smallest competitor with the big voice, Johnny (Egerton) the soulful teen who is hoping for a better life, Ash (Johansson), the porcupine who is discovering she has the voice and the talent to go solo, and shy Meena (Kelly) who can sing beautifully…when she is alone. 

While each participant has the ability to win the singing competition, each also has struggles to overcome, to best share his or her gift with the world. And although Buster is excited about the talent before him, and the prospect of an amazing show that could revitalize the theater, he resorts to desperate scheming to come up with the prize money. 

Who will win? How will Buster honor what he has promised? Or are there bigger rewards that come as the participants follow their passions…and sing? 

This was an entertaining film with plenty of humor, a great selection of more than 85 songs, and important life lessons. I watched Joey and Oliver occasionally, as they sat with eyes on the huge screen, smiles flitting across their earnest faces. With all the music contained within the movie, I wondered if the boys would enjoy the story. I need not have wondered. They payed close attention, laughing over the funny lines and sight gags, often sitting very straight, on the edge of their seats. 

I deeply appreciate films, animated or live action, where transformation and growth occurs as the characters journey. Sing captures the transformation of its characters as they try and fail, or move past their fears, or discover who they are and what they can do. And captures it very well with a story that flows beautifully. At the end of the movie, the large audience in the theater clapped. 

There is much to like about Sing, not the least of which is that the film is the latest offering from the creators of Despicable Me, and features a clip of the Minions singing about Illumination. This was a great movie to discuss with the boys. I appreciated their insights and thoughts and we had a good chat about what happens when we do the things we love to do. 

Joey, Oliver and I give Sing three thumbs up!

Christmas Shopping with Jonathan

This afternoon I picked up grandson Jonathan for his shopping time with Yaya. We had barely gotten underway, when this sweet boy let me know he wasn’t feeling well. He didn’t want to cancel or postpone our time together. And although he didn’t feel like eating dinner, he was eager to shop for gifts for his family. We continued on to the first shopping stop. 

We had a twenty minute drive to our destination. We chatted about school and his friends. And then this high-tech young man delighted me by telling me about an app he recently downloaded, called Wattpad. This app is a place to read and share stories, for free. Wattpad’s mission is to connect a global community through the power of story. I was intrigued!

Then Jonathan wowed me. He’s already written three chapters of his own story on the app. Called Clash, Jonathan’s story is a fan fiction tale, based on the video game, Clash of Clans. As I drove, Jonathan read the three chapters to me. As a writer, I was extremely impressed with his writing style, his choice of words, and his technique. As a Yaya, I was flooded with pride and love and appreciation for Jonathan. What a goal for a young man, to write and share his story. 

Jonathan told me his class was rewarded, for an accomplishment, with an hour of free time. The children who owned cell phones were even allowed to play on those, if they wanted to. Jonathan chose to write, and edit, and move his story along. That’s a huge choice for such a techy boy, who loves his online games. 

We arrived at our first stop, and Jonathan came up with such great ideas for his family members while we were there, that this store became our only stop. In a short time, we were headed to my house so he could wrap his gift selections. 

Even though he didn’t feel like eating dinner, a cold Icee from Casey’s did sound good to him. And surprisingly, so did a bag of Cheetos. I sincerely hoped Jonathan kept those down, or he would likely never eat another Cheeto again! 

It didn’t take Jonathan long to wrap his purchases. We postponed another project, until he is feeling better. And I will take him out to dinner next week, after Christmas, to make up for no dinner tonight. I appreciate that he listened to his body, and skipped a meal when eating didn’t feel right. He followed his heart though, and completed his shopping, so excited about what he bought for his family that he’s hoping to open presents early! 

I enjoyed our time together, brief as it was, and listening as Jonathan read his creation to me. He’s planning on ten chapters. I downloaded the Wattpad app tonight and followed Jonathan. I’m a big fan of his already. 

Vintage Santa Pitcher from Miss Daisys Attic

I took advantage of brilliant sunshine and warmer temps today, to join the merry throngs of holiday shoppers. Needing to complete my Christmas shopping, it was a necessity, and I don’t mind the crowds. Greg accompanied me, offering his services as chauffeur and package carrier. We made a day of it, grabbing lunch and visiting a variety of shops, as I crossed items off my shopping list. 

One of my stops was purely out of curiosity. Miss Daisy’s Attic is a vintage boutique offering an interesting mix of antiques, repurposed items and hand crafted pieces. The shop opened in mid October and I’ve been wanting to stop by. Located near Cracker Barrel Restaurant, at 2702 Richard Joseph Blvd, I was intentional about adding Miss Daisy’s to my list of shops to visit. 

What a beautifully arranged store. Miss Daisy’s Attic has the charming look of a boutique, rather than a flea market. The displays were well merchandised and appealing. I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the store, seeing many interesting items. I will visit again, after Christmas, and shop for myself. However, one piece caught my eye this afternoon and I couldn’t leave without it. 

This vintage Santa pitcher, made by the Japanese company TILSO, was made in the 1960s. I have a large Santa mug collection, that I display every year, and I’ve never seen this pitcher in a store before. It is a perfect addition to my collection. 

Greg’s mother unknowingly started my collection in 1977, when she gave me the three mugs pictured above. The winking Santa mug, which is another TILSO piece, was purchased in the 60s. She made the snowman mug and the Santa one in her pottery classes, sometime in the early 60s. Greg’s name is painted in gold on Santa’s stocking cap. 

This year’s mugs…the “bushy eyebrows” Santa and the motor home mugs, purchased at Target. 

I have been adding to my collection each year. Most of the mugs are representations of Santa, as I stay true to the pieces that started this tradition. However, there are also snowmen mugs, a snow angel and a shepherd among the group as well. If there is not a sticker affixed to the bottom of the mug, with the date and store name on it, I write that info on a strip of paper and drop it into the cup. 

I enjoy my mug collection. It is festive and cheerful and a connection to my late mother-in-law. As I continue to add new mugs, I will have to find a new location for displaying them, or split the collection into smaller groupings. I am delighted with my find today at Miss Daisy’s Attic. The pitcher looks great perched in the midst of the assortment of mugs. 

Greg’s mom is surely looking on with amusement, or astonishment, at what has grown from those first mugs that she gifted me with. Merry Christmas to me…from Miss Daisy’s Attic!

Movie Review: Collateral Beauty

I have looked forward to seeing this movie since previews aired late this summer at the movie theater. The storyline intrigued me and the tag line…We are all connected…caught my interest as well. This afternoon I took time to slip away and enjoy watching this thought provoking movie. 

Collateral Beauty stars Will Smith, Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Kiera Knightly, Michael Peña, Jacob Latimore and Naomie Harris. This drama was directed by David Frankel and carries a PG-13 rating for brief strong language. The movie has a run time of 1 hour and 37 minutes. 

Howard (Smith) is a successful executive with a NYC advertising agency, whose life takes a tragic turn. His young daughter dies. Life becomes too much to bear. He withdraws from his business partners and friends, Whit (Norton), Claire (Winslet) and Simon (Peña), and from life itself. As the company he helped to build loses momentum and is threatened with ruin, Howard flings out painful questions to the universe. 

He writes letters to Love (Knightly), Time (Latimore) and Death (Mirren). Unexpectedly, Howard meets each entity and begins to learn about the connectedness of all people and all things. He opens up a tiny bit, to a grief counselor named Madeleine (Harris), who helps parents after the loss of a child. Madeleine has journeyed through that heartbreaking and life changing experience herself. She believes Howard, when he shares that Love, Time and Death are having conversations with him. And she shares that as her daughter was dying, a woman she had never met before encouraged her to look for the collateral beauty. 

In the midst of these impossible encounters with otherworldly beings, and difficult but healing conversations with Madeleine, Howard discovers his business partners are doing whatever it takes to save the company, even if they must oppose him. Each of his partners, his friends, have challenges of their own to deal with. All of their lives are impacted by Love, Time and Death. 

This was an amazing and poignant story, full of sorrow, humor and hope. Will Smith’s character references Love, Time and Death at the beginning of the film, before tragedy befell him. He says, “We’re here to connect. Love, time, death. Now these three things connect every single human being on earth. We long for love, we wish we had more time, and we fear death.”  These three have much to say, to Howard, to his friends, to the audience, watching this story unfold. 

While I have, gratefully, been spared the loss that Howard suffered, I am no stranger to angst nor to throwing out questions that seem unanswerable. We have all been in that position. The whys, the what ifs, they have peppered our journeys, and kept us chained to past events, kept us from moving forward, prevented us from seeing the collateral beauty. This movie was painful to watch at times, and yet, I wanted to see Howard’s questions answered. In hearing responses to his pain, I could access my own. 

The collateral beauty aspect was thought provoking. I know from experience that from my most difficult times has come growth and revelation and awareness…all forms of collateral beauty. It is possible, even after the unimaginable happens, to see the beauty that exists around us, and see in that beauty, the wonder, the connectedness of all things. That beauty helps us to remember that we are part of a larger story that is unfolding. 

This was an extremely well done movie. There were twists and turns and a big reveal near the end that made me smile through tears and appreciate the cleverness of the writers. I adore cleverness. And Collateral Beauty, along with many worthy traits, is certainly clever. And haunting. And beautiful. I’ll be thinking about this film for days to come. 

Happy Birthday Oliver

Today the last two members of my family both celebrated birthdays. Among my large family, this is the only occurrence of shared birthdays, and interestingly, they happened at the end of the year, creating a big finish. So I can focus on each person, I’m writing two blog posts today. 

This is my grandson Oliver’s birthday post. 

After winter weather moved in yesterday, I was unsure whether Oliver and I would get to enjoy our birthday lunch and shopping trip today. Although the sun was bright, helping to clear the roads of their icy layer, the temperature never rose above 14 degrees. My son and daughter-in-law and I discussed the situation via text messaging, and agreed the roads were safe. The birthday outing was on! 

Before meeting Megan in Joplin, to pick up Oliver, I looked up his name. 

“Oliver, you are learning to develop patience, and discovering that perseverance is a trait worth cultivating. You are good at absorbing knowledge and retain it well. While you can be charming or play it cool, most often you are a mixture of both. People don’t realize that you tend to hold things inside and suffer in silence until you can’t remain silent any longer, then you may express yourself strongly. 

You desire to inspire and lead, to control what others do. You are giving, courageous and bold, action oriented, energetic and strong willed. You truly want to make a difference in the world, and this attitude draws you to cultural interests, politics, social issues, and the cultivation of your creative talents.

I see the truth in these words about this handsome, active boy, who turned nine today. Patience hasn’t been a word I have associated with Oliver. And yet…I have seen this child grow and change so much this past year. He is learning that sometimes you go after what you want. And sometimes, you wait and the perfect opportunity arises. He is incredibly bright, remembering well what he learns. And most definitely Oliver can turn on the charm and dazzle people with his big smile. Or he can hold back, coolly appraising others or situations, weighing options before he acts. 

The section about holding things inside is true as well, something I’ve come to understand about Oliver recently. He is more shy and reserved than people at first realize. This sensitive boy has come to trust me, and with that trust, he has opened his beautiful heart and shared more about how he thinks and what he feels. New people, especially, or being in a crowd of strangers, can make him feel uncomfortable and less likely to engage with others. I appreciate Oliver’s honesty. 

When we are together, such as we were today, I don’t make him talk to people that he doesn’t know. If he wants to engage or answer a question a well meaning store associate or waitress asks, that’s totally up to him. I’m finding that if I will talk to the new person first, keeping a friendly and casual conversation going, Oliver is much more likely to join in on his own, and feel good about that. Everyone is unique. I’m grateful for this grandson’s perspectives and gifts and how he relates to the world. 

Today we enjoyed lunch at IHOP, where Oliver put away a stack of pancakes. We chatted about a broad range of topics. Rather than spend his birthday cash all on toys or on one big item, he asked if we could go to the mall. There is a place set up there, with cords and pulleys and trampolines, where the adventurous can bounce and somersault and leap high into the air. That’s what Oliver most wanted to do. 

And that is so like this energetic boy. He loves to move…run, climb, jump, do tricks…and he likes having an attentive and appreciative audience! Courageous, bold and action oriented all describe Oliver well. He used some of his birthday money to rig up and jump for 10 minutes, that infectious grin on his face, his athletic form spinning effortlessly into somersaults and back flips. I cheered and took pics and video, capturing his fun, capturing Oliver, and who he is at this moment. 

I have no doubt this boy will become a leader of others or a creator of big ideas. As I drove him home, he examined the one toy that he purchased at the mall…a hovering UFO type craft that is controlled with hand movements…and allowed his imagination to spark, thinking up possible inventions. Someday this kid, who is learning to channel his energy in remarkable ways, will come up with a million dollar idea that benefits many. I will enjoy seeing who he becomes and what he creates as he grows up. 

Happy birthday, Oliver. I love you so much! 

Happy Birthday Fox

Today the last two members of my family both celebrated birthdays. Among my large family, this is the only occurrence of shared birthdays, and interestingly, they happened at the end of the year, creating a big finish. So I can focus on each person, I’m writing two blog posts today. 

This is the birthday post for my nephew Fox. 

Fox, center of pic. 

Today my brother’s younger son entered his teens. This is a big birthday, the milestone marking the leaving behind of childhood and the approach of adulthood. As all of us who have lived through these years know, being a teenager can be a turbulent time, full of changes and realizations, love and angst, questions and figuring things out. 

I think this young man can handle the journey ahead, and handle it beautifully. 

I looked up Fox’s name. 

“Fox, you are kind, home-loving, hospitable and friendly. Since you take responsibility well, you are a good organizer of events, social affairs and life itself. Compassion for others is an outstanding trait that you possess. In fact, you have a heart full of love, which will guide you in connecting with and helping others.  Your compassion, paired with creativity, might lead you toward being an artist, a musician, an actor, a teacher or a nurse. 

Your desires can sometimes be contradictory. You are practical, yet idealistic and intuitive; capable of selfless devotion to someone you love, yet look to receive payback. You are honest, methodical and believe in law, system and order. You are making a difference in the world, just by being you. 

I don’t get to spend much time with my nephew. But I know the words above ring true for Fox. He is compassionate and has a heart full of love, which is especially evident when he is with his family. Like many kids of his generation, he lives harmoniously in a big blended family, spending time with both sets of parents and his brothers and sister, fulfilling his role as son, younger brother, older brother and grandson. 

Fox is incredibly intelligent, doing well in school. Combine that intelligence with his compassion toward others and his creative and intuitive abilities and there are endless possibilities and opportunities ahead for this young man. That is the great beauty of being a teen. There is time to explore many paths to see which one feels right, which one brings joy and a sense of purpose. 

Fox, may you enjoy the coming years as you make important decisions about schooling, your career and your life. Have fun. Love. Play. Engage in life fully. You truly are making a difference in the world, just by being who you are. 

And know I am watching you and cheering for you, and journeying alongside. Happy birthday, Fox. I love you! 

Photo by his mom, Stephany Christensen. 

Christmas Shopping with Aubrey

Today it was Aubrey’s turn for shopping with Yaya. My only granddaughter had been patiently waiting all week for her opportunity to share a meal together and shop for her family. Keeping an eye on developing winter weather, I picked Aubrey up a bit earlier than planned and off we went. 

For our lunch, Aubrey selected one of her favorite restaurants, Golden Corral. This little old soul loves a good buffet! All her favorites were offered this afternoon…ham, fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, and grapes. I was able to enjoy a plate of fresh raw veggies followed by a plain baked potato and steamed Brussels sprouts and carrots. No trip through the buffet is complete, for Aubrey, without visiting the chocolate fountain. She finished her meal with several marshmallows dipped in the smooth liquid chocolate. 

I love Aubrey’s heart for others. She likes to leave a personal note to our waitress, along with a generous tip 

As we left the restaurant, tiny snowflakes were falling, mixed with rain that was bordering on freezing. I don’t like to rush my grandchildren during these special outings. However, as the weather deteriorated, I knew we were going to have to shop quickly. I did not want to risk being in a car accident with Aubrey on board. We asked for Divine protection as we carefully drove to Toys R Us. 

Aubrey understood the situation, and she was up to the challenge. She did a remarkable job of selecting great gifts at two different stores, in record time. Like Oliver and Joey, she was thoughtful as she hunted for the perfect gifts, and enjoyed imagining the reactions of the recipients of her presents. As she does when she is choosing items for herself, Aubrey employs a technique we call, “does this ring my bell”, when she buys for others. She holds the object. And then passes on it or keeps it. Although she may not understand why she does this simple test, she is checking, energetically, to see if the item brings her joy, or when shopping for others, will they experience joy. I love how aware she is. 

At my house, Aubrey wrapped gifts. We had to postpone wrapping a gift for her cousin/best friend, London. And wait on doing another project. I’ll make up for the shortened time, and allow this sweet girl to finish up, one afternoon next week when the weather is better. After hamming it up for a photo, we loaded gifts into the car and set out again into the freezing rain and cold wind. 

I am grateful to Greg for driving us to Carthage. The sidewalks, parking lots and roads were becoming slick as the drizzle froze into thin sheets of ice. The windshield wanted to ice up too. We safely delivered Aubrey and made a slow and careful return trip to Joplin. I am grateful, always, for Divine protection. 

I managed to get one selfie of Aubrey and me, in the car. She snapped the pic for me. I really appreciated her good attitude this afternoon and her ability to shift and go with the flow. She didn’t complain once about having to rush our time together. Rather, she graciously adapted. And made the most of the time we did have. 

I am so blessed with the grandchildren I have. Rain or shine, good or bad weather, expected or unexpected circumstances…it is so amazing to journey with them. 

Christmas Shopping with Joey

Today it was grandson Joey’s turn to have a meal with me and go shopping for Christmas gifts for his family. When I talked to Joey earlier in the week, after Oliver and I returned from his excursion, he hoped we could spend a long time together. He didn’t want to have to rush his decision making process, and he sweetly said he wanted the one on one time with me to last all day. 

Joey’s wishes for more time together came true! His school ended up having an early out today. I was able to pick him up and start our Yaya and Grandchild time two hours earlier than we had planned. These are important lessons to experience, that what we sincerely desire with a whole heart can create shifts that birth our hopes into reality. 

Joey was hungry when I picked him up from school, so our first stop was at Chili’s Restaurant in Joplin. While we waited for our lunches to arrive, we played Monopoly on the table top device. Joey loves this board game, and it was fun to try out an electronic version, which moved at a much faster pace than the standard version. 

I did so well rolling the virtual dice, and rolling in pretend money, that Joey and I joked about making our next stop the casino! Truthfully, gambling isn’t something I desire to teach my grandson about. But we laughed over my accumulating stash of electronic funds and discussed what we would do if we had that kind of cash. Joey, who is so compassionate, said he would buy everyone bigger presents for Christmas!

Joey knew exactly what he wanted to purchase for his family, and where he wanted to shop. After a leisurely lunch, we planned our route and began shopping, making stops for the desired purchases and making sure we included a pit stop for a cold drink. 

I enjoy following the kids around as they shop. Each child puts a great deal of thought into the gift selection process. Contary to when I take them out for their birthday dinners and shopping trips, this time of year, it is all about thinking of others and what they like. Not one child asks to buy anything for themselves. The focus is on what would light up a parent or sibling’s face and bring them joy. I am grateful that I can be part of allowing the kids to do something special for their families. 

Shopping completed, Joey made quick work of wrapping the gifts. I was delighted, watching as he wrote on the gift tags. He didn’t just write the typical To: and From:. He added words of love, underlining them for emphasis. 

The boy does have a sense of humor too. While helping me pick out extra gift bags at a store, he found the perfect one for his brother’s present. I suddenly noticed that the bag was flawed…the word JOY was upside down. When I pointed out the mistake and reached for another bag, Joey claimed the misprinted one instead. “It’s perfect for my brother,” he laughed. He defended the bag to the clerk who rang us out, and wanted to replace it. And grinned as he slipped Oliver’s gift inside and made sure the name tag hung in such a way to call attention to the upside down JOY. 

His joy, upside down or right side up, was obvious…and contagious. I’m still smiling about it, and my day of shopping with Joey. 

Ethan’s Winter Concert

What an honor and a treat this evening, to be in the audience during my great nephew’s first concert. Ethan began playing the violin four months ago. Tonight he joined 100 other sixth graders as the Union School Orchestra took the stage. 

My mom, my sister Linda, Greg and I traveled from Joplin to join Ethan’s family…his mom and dad, little brother Kaleb, and his Meem, who is my sister Debbie…for what will surely be the first of many such performances. Looking confident and handsome in his dress shirt and slacks, Ethan sat relaxed with his violin, ready to play. 

Kaleb showing brotherly support by sporting a Union wrist bracelet that lit up. 

The orchestra, composed of violins and violas, cellos and basses, performed seven selections. Included in the mix were familiar Christmas tunes and classics by musical greats such as Mozart. I was impressed with the obvious hard work and dedication that went into tonight’s concert. Four months is a very short amount of time, to go from learning how to sit and hold a violin or cello, to playing before a large audience. 

And I was inspired as I sat, captivated. There are life lessons to be learned, in listening to and observing a group of musicians as they play. Each person focuses on his music, plays her notes to the best of her ability, allowing the other musicians the freedom to do the same. The individuals become the whole, together creating something bigger, something beyond their solitary notes.

I was struck this evening by the thought that I have been listening to my grandson, Dayan, as he has performed with his school’s marching band and orchestra for the past seven years. I have loved attending those events and concerts. Dayan is a senior in high school. And I have already felt sad that those times of sitting in a hushed audience as the musicians play were drawing to a close.

Tonight it feels like the baton is passing, from my grandson, who is college bound, to my great nephew, who has years yet ahead of him to play and create and perform. What a joy to realize that the music does go on. I will be there in the audience for Ethan, an appreciative fan, with a full and grateful heart. 

Listen to the Union Orchestra perform Jingle Bells HERE

Greetings from the Past

I had a few free minutes early this evening, which was just enough time to be creative and craft simple Christmas décor. Sorting through boxes of old photos, correspondence and notes recently, Greg came across a handful of tiny Christmas cards. Inspired by the framing of Ray’s snowman, I was excited to see what I could make with these vintage greetings from the past. 

I have never seen Christmas cards like these before. The smallest one, about two inches square, is made from standard card paper. But the other three cards, which are slightly larger, have teeny cards attached to squares of transparent or opaque parchment paper. Researching them,  I found the cards referred to as gilded parchment. 

The cards are uniquely beautiful, with green, white and red etchings on the parchment, which feels like stiff plastic. Greg’s grandparents were the recipients of these cards. My best estimate is that the cards date from 1910 to the late 1920s. I found very similar greeting cards online from 1910. That means these greetings from the past are around 100 years old. 

I sorted through a stack of old frames, selecting a simple wooden one for the tiny paper poinsettia card. For the three parchment cards, I used, at last, three white vintage looking  frames that I purchased years ago. The cards fit perfectly within the openings, leading me to believe that I have been saving the frames for just this purpose. I used scrapbooking Christmas paper behind each card. 

I am quite pleased with how these simple framed pieces of art turned out! The paper card rests on a festive table near a poinsettia dish that Greg’s mother, Leta, made in 1961. 

And the three parchment cards hang together in their white frames, near my silver metal Christmas tree. It brings me great joy to repurpose these old greetings from the past, creating something fresh, artsy and decorative. 

I love the way inspiration is tapping me on the shoulder and whispering creatively into my ear. I desire to keep accepting these invitations to play and create as I flow into the next year, ensuring that many more such invites will arrive. The new year is so full of promise.