December 31st was the first time I have celebrated New Year (Nor Dari) with the residents of Warm Hearth in all of these years. And what a sweet night it was--to be held with love in the home of the people I have long loved, to be welcomed into their vibrant celebration, and to have my mother, son and friend in tow to bear witness to the joy and the dancing and the mountains of food and the way that they danced around the gifts in unison after Grandpa Winter came and delivered gifts.
At Thanksgiving this past year, I heard my grandparents say as they looked around at their daughter and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Well, dear, we are responsible for all of this. And I chuckled and marveled at how that must feel -- to look around and see the beauty and foibles and tensions and love that is connected to one decision to try to love someone for better or worse and to allow that love, imperfect though it may be, to bear fruit.
Last night, I felt that in some small way. But I wanted to turn to each of you and all of our staff and say, Well, dears, we are responsible for all of this. We are responsible for bringing people into Warm Hearth when we didn't yet know what that would mean. I looked around and saw with striking clarity, despite the tears in my eyes, what it has meant to not turn away, what it has meant to bring together the beauty and foibles and tensions and love into that is connected to a myriad of decisions to try to love quite a few people now for better or worse. It has born fruit. It is bearing fruit.
I looked around and saw evidence of you there -- the Christmas tree lit with sparkling lights that one of you purchased in the corner, the resident some of you wanted to see come back home when it didn't make sense to anyone else, the piano they were gathered around singing that you purchased so that they could have music as a daily part of their lives, the quilts upon their beds, the clothing on their backs, the food on their table. I saw evidence of your love and commitment to this idea that they deserved to have a Christmas & New Year celebration in their own home, with love beyond measure behind and around them. And they do. I believe they do.
Before we sat down to eat, a few of the residents pulled me aside and said, Natalie, did you know that we are getting a third home for more people? A third Warm Hearth? And I nodded and then just went along with it -- with something that is now their movement and said, How wonderful. How beautiful. How astonishing.
As we started eating every possible Armenian delicacy and traditional dish, the residents gave toasts one after the other, wishing us joy and peace and health and happiness and peace. I should spread that out to some of you, because we received love in spades to last us the whole year through. But Srpuhi, one of the beloved staff members, stood up last and she said, through tears, May next year more people have a table to sit around just like this. I raised my glass high as I could to clink with hers, and thought of the people waiting for the third home, waiting for gifts and dancing and mountains of food, but most of all waiting for love. May it be theirs in 2020! May it also be yours.
With love and gratitude,