Last night was one of those wondrous evenings of dear friends ushering in the New Year together. Mark and I have been on a whirlwind holiday dash to see family across the universe, or so it sometimes seems when your plane leaves minutes after six and and by two P.M. the topography has changed from the wilds of the west to the fields of the midwest, neither particularly covered with snow; an oddity for this time of year. From one Christmas celebration to another, from one side of the family to another three hours away. And then a seven hour drive south to the beautiful small town of Danville, Kentucky where in a short number of hours friends would be gathering in our cozy soon to be decorated home for a sentimental journey through our history together, and a few precious hours before midnight to catch up on the latest year’s experiences, joys, trials and triumphs. I shopped until two A.M. after arriving shortly before midnight. In the morning the house, which I had not been to since May, was transformed into a magically inviting place with colored lights and decorations and a warm, gentle fire in the fireplace. Throughout the afternoon, the focus turned to preparing colorful arrays of fruits and vegetables, shrimp and desserts arranged in aesthetically pleasing configurations on glass and silver plates, as an artist can’t help but do. There were offers to help with the decorating and preparations, but with little acceptance as I create as I work, without planning or foresight, taking the props and tools and resources at hand, and working them into a collage of sensory delights much as one does creating a play or a dance, a song or a painting… that one of a kind thing that we must do because it is inside us, and that we hope will please those around us. When the guests arrived and the house filled with cheer, it was obvious to me that the real gift on New Year’s Eve was not the decorations or the food, the colored lights or the fire, but my precious friends who would take their time from their own lovely homes to share the start of 2012 with Mark and me. They are each a special work of art created well over time and when presented to to the world, are received with love and appreciation. They have earned a standing ovation for all that they are and all they have given me. Here’s to you, my dear friends, and to a joyous and propserous New Year!