The Most Important Dinner of the Year

The most important dinner of the year is coming up. 

Well, at least, the most important dinner of my year. 

Each year, sometime in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, my husband and I spend the event cooking with and for each other. We make a big, elaborate meal, the kind of menu we don’t typically have the energy or time or availability for. We spend time on wine pairings and pore over recipes in anticipation of the evening together. 

Each year, for the last five years, we have come together at the year’s end to discuss the year. To experience it again, in technicolor memory, over a glass of wine and a tender filet. To laugh about the best moments and to grieve those we lost. And, to look ahead at the coming year and dream with each other. 

For five years, we have filled out cards that I made, unembellished and insignificant looking. The notecards simply list what are known at the “five sectors”: parenting, career, spirituality, physical wellness, and partnership. We each write down one or two goals we intend to focus on in the new year. 

There are years when we accomplish every single thing we set out to—hats off to you, 2013!—and there are years that leave us glad we are still sailing on course. But through each and every day of those years, we are together, with each other’s goals in mind, grappling. I push him, and he pushes me. That’s how we are our best together

This tradition has made a huge impact on my marriage and my holiday season, and I invite you to make this your own. If you and your partner do not enjoy cooking together, go out. If you don’t want to use the “five sectors” to organize your goals, make your own. But the one thing you really should keep the same is the cards. We have kept all five sets of goal cards and delight in reading them and remembering. There’s something about a real, live piece of paper and the act of writing down the goals—and keeping them secret until the dinner. 

You will look back on all your progress each year and be happy you kept your cards, too.