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Teen Health 411

New Year Ritual

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Continuing my theme about the importance of celebration and rituals in our lives, and especially involving teens in holiday rituals, here is a suggestion for a New Years Eve tradition. All you will need is a bowl, preferably metal, a pen, and paper. Flash paper works the best - it is the paper magicians use that bursts into flames and leaves no residue - very cool. Flash paper is available at some magic stores, but is also illegal in some counties because of its flammability. If you order it via the Internet, leave a couple days to dry it - it comes wet - as to not freak the postal workers out when it bursts into flame.

Start now and tell the kids what you want to do on New Years Eve. Ask everyone in the family to make three lists of all 1) the blessings they appreciated in 2006; 2) the things they experienced in 2006 that they hope they never have to endure again; and 3) the hopes and expectations they have for 2007. Remind everyone that these are private and no one should read the other's lists.

When New Years Eve gets here, have the kids write each of the things on their lists on a separate piece of the flash paper, and fold them so no one can read them. Then, once it is really dark, go outside and over the bowl, with a hose standing by in case things get out-of-hand (sorry - I am an old Girl Scout Leader), take turns burning the paper - start with the bad and end with the good!

When we do this together it brings back memories and fun stories. We usually hold hands while the burning ashes die down, and then we go about the evening - usually with a special dinner and a movie, or neighbors and "poppers" at midnight. They are available at party stores - the kind you pull the string on and the confetti streamers blow out. We love to decorate the trees that have lost their leaves with the streamers becasue in the morning sun they shimmer.

Remember to tell everyone in your family how much you love them and appreciate them in your life! Welcome 2007!

Photo credit: A spiritual oddity

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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