It is a New Year.
A new year is not just a day in the calendar – it is an opportunity. But sometimes sadness and loss make it difficult to grasp opportunities. As Kristie says, “New friendships and adventures await.” But sometimes it is difficult to welcome them.
Sharing stories is a very special part of all our friendships. So we love Julie’s message, “You are an inspiration to dogs and humans everywhere, looking forward to your 2018 tails! (Tales).” We hope we can lift up some special friends through stories. Our lovely pal, Kay, also talks about the inspiration of stories, “Thanks for the wonderful cheery posts that we can always count on from you our pals throughout this year. With hope and kindness to guide us through dark and testing times we can be inspired to carry on with our friends here on Twitter by our side always.” And Mariah sends a beautiful message about what story-telling means to her, “Thank you for letting us follow your daily adventures. Even through the ups and downs you have taught us all: ‘Remember, you’re the one who can fill the world with sunshine.’”
We hope that to love and share through stories, and bringing together the stories of our friends here in the New Year Tree, will bring us all together to enjoy the opportunities of the New Year. In her message to the tree, our friend Eileen quotes Sadako Sasaki, “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly over the world.” And it is true, with stories we have flown all over the world. As Meg says, the tree “is sprinkled with magic from afar.”
Today is also officially the Eighth Day of Christmas. Depending upon whom you ask, you might be inclined to give someone eight ladies dancing, or eight maids a-milking, or eight maids a-dancing, or … eight hounds a-running.
So on the Eighth Day of Christmas, our true love gave to all of us messages from eight very special hounds…
Little Lucky Munster, who wishes, “Lang may your lum reek”, with plenty of warmth and hugs and love.
Messrs Wilfred and Albert wish for more years of health and happiness for everyone, signing off with love, woofs, licks and cuddles.
Mister Wilson says, “I wish what everyone here has wished. I love every each one of you.”
Hansel wishes for homes for all the homeless dogs.
Auntie Simba wishes for understanding and kindness from all humans.
And as Mariah and Kay remember fondly, Leo and Finnegan are “still our rays of sunshine”.
And with a New Year come new expectations. This has been an especially hard year for many of our friends. We have lost some very special people this past year, and at this time of year that loss is felt ever more profoundly. And when so many of us are so far apart, one of the biggest obstacles is to show just how much we care for each other, even though we are often too far away to offer a hug.
This year, for each message we received, we tied a golden ribbon on the New Year Tree. Ribbons have become a universal symbol of caring and this year’s New Year Tree is all about caring. The tradition of the ribbon probably dates right back to tournaments of the Middle Ages, when medieval ladies would give ribbons to knights as symbols of love, usually handmade by the lady herself. But then in modern times this developed into a tradition of the yellow ribbon as a gesture of love for those away at war, keeping their memory, welcoming them home. Since then the ribbon has become a very significant symbol of awareness and caring across a range of issues and causes.
This year, for each message, we decided to tie golden ribbons round the New Year Tree to show how much we were all caring and thinking about each other. And for the ribbons remembering some very cherished loved ones, it was extra special indeed. Memories bring both sadness and comfort. But we will never forget them. For Janice, 2017 was a very sad year of loss and personal challenges, “Loved ones passed on and health challenges kept me from being my best. My wish for 2018 is to live in the moment. I want to be more appreciative of all the beauty and good that is around me. Isn’t that something we all can strive to do?” These are very wise words. Faced with loss, sometimes all one can do is put all one’s faith in the new. It is a little like being rescued. And we really want to help rescue some very special friends from their sadness, and help everyone enjoy some new and great expectations. Janice lovingly says, “Blessed to be included on the message tree. Blessed that we are friends.” As simple as it seems, there is so much to treasure in these words.
And the New Year Tree carries a lot of important messages of caring and hope. Kristie sends strength and hope to David, who is facing a serious health crisis. Auntie Simba wishes Helen a speedy recovery. Jacqueline wishes for the end of the dog meat trade. And Grand Human wishes for a much more dog-friendly world, kindness is everything.
And the New Year Tree is full of love. Making people smile is a wonderful thing to do, and so it makes us so happy to hear from Emilia, “I love you all! You make me smile!” Karen wishes health and happiness all around, “I would like all my lovely friends – both four and two legged – to be happy and healthy in the coming year.” Alison sends her caring to all her pals on Facebook and Twitter, wishing them health and happiness for 2018, and showing just how significant the bonds of messages can be. And Kristie wishes for all, “all good things,” and “if it’s not to be all good things, then resilience and strength through adversity.” And Bobbi sends a message, “May the New Year be blessed with good tidings. May the Spirit go with you, ‘til the season comes ‘round again.”
With kindness and caring comes peace. Meg touched our hearts when she said, “Just the simple art of being kind, directly from the heart, and Be That Dog are kindness.” Whether that kindness and caring bring us the peace to grant the resilience to zoom ahead, or the peace that comes with the understanding and goodwill of true friendship, with kindness and caring comes peace. And so many of us have wished for peace. Teresa resolves to find a new understanding: “To seek a more peaceful life by analyzing what doesn’t bring peace and changing it.” And in a way, Leona sums up the caring of the New Year Tree in one simple wish, “Peace on Earth and Good Will towards all. My eternal wish.”
Each New Year we remember. And to the special hound who brought us all together, Finnegan Otterhound, we remember. As our good pal Kathy says, “Finnegan Otterhound was a force in the universe bringing us into a circle of friends. I will never forget him.”
We never will. We have tied a golden ribbon on the New Year Tree.
We have tied a hundred golden ribbons.
 With a Smile and a Song (1937), written by Frank Churchill, lyrics by Larry Morey, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), directed by David Hand.
 Twelve Days of Christmas: Notes on the Festival and the Carol https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/Notes_On_Carols/twelve_days_of_christmas.htm