Minnesota is always extra dreamy at the holidays, and this year was no different. As always, my favorite part is to be with friends and family, reconnecting with my roots and gaining strength for a new year from the people who know me best.
My favorite new thing in Minneapolis this year was the Holidazzle Christmas Market in Loring Park. It was strange to me that so many locals had no idea this was going on, and if they did, they didn't go. That was a mistake, because it was the absolute most charming thing we did, hands down.
The park is transformed into a Winter Wonderland full of twinkling trees adorned with lights, a whole bunch of booths selling everything from Christmas ornaments to Holidazzle sausages (brats with spices, wild rice and cranberries in them - mmm). They had free ice skating, fire pits, choirs singing, outdoor movies, interactive sculptures, spiked cider, and the best Santa I've maybe ever seen. He told me my wish for World Peace was completely possible, because it's inside all of us every day. I tried to set my Mom up with him. She'd be the best Mrs. Clause ever.
We rode ferris wheels in the winter sky. We hiked the woods on icy trails. We took in a lot of hockey, both professional and pond. We shopped a little and ate a lot. We exchanged "Merry Christmas!"'s with strangers, and felt cozy in our homes and hearts.
Christmas itself was the usual wonderful chaos, spent with friends inside on a freezing rain, brutal day outside that no one even really paid any attention to, as there was so much catching up and laughing to do. Thanks, as ever, to the fantastic Hendrickson family for opening their home to a whole slew of Spartans that look forward to it all year.
It's always a treat for Mom to have all three of her kids home together, and we once again hit up this year's edition of Star Wars to re-live a little of the childhood that we shared together.
We saw dear loved ones from near and far, and Christmas always puts the patina of nostalgia over the gatherings, reminding us of those who are no longer with us, and those who will soon be joining us (new babies coming in '17!). The people are what make any of it special, and all of couldn't be richer in what we have there. There are so many truly good people, making life a complete treasure to share this Earth at the same time as, that it really helps you to know that no matter what is going on in the world at large, there will always be good people to handle it. Thank God.
I got the dread winter cold, so a couple days were spent just totally down - like didn't leave the house - and even that wasn't that much of a drag. Christmas cards to read, movies and games to watch and play, fridge stocked ... it was fine.
After the whole city seemed to be hacking and sniffling, it seemed fitting that we would end our 2016 with a Sauna party, to sweat out the old toxic past, and prepare our bodies and minds for the freshness of a new year. I know it's just a symbolic flip of the page that mankind made up a zillion years ago, but there's still something nice about the feeling of starting anew with a clean slate - even if it's still pretty dirty from the last mess of a year.
More than anything, being home with so many of my loved ones made it clear that most anything good that happens is because of the People. Not governments, not corporations, but the citizens that decide to make good things happen themselves. It doesn't even really matter what nightmare of an administration is about to take office, it remains up to us to oppose what's wrong, stick up for what's right, and make things happen that are supposed to in order to make it a just and beautiful world for everyone. Everyone.
I saw a beautiful last sunset of the year over a frozen lake, and a beautiful first one of a new year flying over the Western skies. Both let me know that everything has the potential to be full of wonder, and it's up to us to make it so. I arrived back in a very cold and grey Venice, which was and is ok, because that's the lesson. No matter what, there is still beauty to be found. I mean, look!
So here we are. A brand new year to make of it whatever we together choose. Let's decide to make it great, and never look back - unless it's with gratitude for what we've collectively learned to make our time here together as good as it can be. We got this. Happy 2017 to us ALL!!!
I can't wait to see what happens.