Happy New Year!

January 4, 2013

Happy New Year! It’s been such a long time since I’ve been here, but I hope to get back to writing again in 2013. I have some new resources to share and am learning new things every day from my amazing girl.

 Greek New Year's Cake  On New Year’s Day we followed the Greek tradition of baking a New Year’s cake, or a Vassilopita, named after St. Basil, whose name day is January 1st. Inside the cake is hidden a coin, and whoever finds it in their piece of cake will receive good luck in the coming year. My husband always uses some interesting foreign coin from his collection, wrapped in foil, to add to the exoticness of this custom.

We often invite Canadian friends over on New Year’s Day to share in this tradition as the children who have never experienced this before LOVE anticipating who will get the coin. I always wish there could be a coin for everyone, but nope, there is just one, and it’s pretty thrilling when you’re the one who finds it.

 This year we invited over an amazing family whom we probably never would have met if we didn’t have Rachel in our lives.  I got to know my friend and her baby boy at my first Down syndrome association meeting, and there was an instant bond when we discovered we both had typical sons the same age and infants with Down syndrome. Four and a half years of deep conversations, play dates, tears, and laughter later, it feels like I have always known this family. The truth is that our friendship is one of the greatest gifts our children have given us.

New YearIt’s ironic because when my daughter was born, I had no interest in going to a support group or meeting any other families. I did not feel I was lacking for friends or people in my life, and ultimately I didn’t want things to change too drastically with my child’s diagnosis. Fast forward four and a half years, and I’m sure I’ve met several hundred people simply because we are involved in the Down syndrome community– amazing families through our local DS association, incredible professionals who work with our children, and even strangers who want to come up and talk to us because something about our daughter draws them in. 

It is now so comforting spending time with our New Year’s friends and other families we have met along the way. Because really, how many guests will discuss models of housing for adults with intellectual disabilities with us at dinner?  Who else knows how to perfectly interact with our daughter even though she has difficulty being understood by most? These friends celebrate our little girl’s milestones with as much excitement as we do, just as we marvel at how their little boy is doing. And when it comes to gifts, well, naturally they arrived to dinner with the perfect developmental toy as a Christmas gift for Rachel and an arrangement of three exquisite orchids for me. The orchids signify the unique beauty of our children and the three copies of their twenty-first chromosome. 

My friend has often joked that she will one day be Rachel’s mother-in-law, but whether or not this happens in any official sense, I know our lives will be forever intertwined. We will face difficult transitions together; our older sons will have a friend who gets what it’s like to have a special sibling; and our little ones will have a buddy who moves through the world at the same pace as they do.

All this from a meeting I never wanted to attend.

So who will have the good fortune for the year? Well, in the end, my friend’s husband found the coin. However, in Greece they also say that the coming year will be full of what you experienced on New Year’s Day. If that is so, we will all be truly blessed in 2013.


  For M.

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