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So … we made it!

As we lurch, stumble or launch into the New Year, I expect all of us have learned something about ourselves and those around us. That something is we miss each other.

Perhaps, we’ve even learned what’s important to us — the safety of our family, friends, community and the need for continued faith in the belief the “sun” will shine within the next year.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with my oldest sister these past few months and it’s been an eye opening experience. For my other four sisters, she was always the outlier of the group but, I never saw her as that. That’s the joy of being the brother of the group — we guys see things differently. Oh, don’t raise your eyebrows at that statement — we guys see things differently than you gals!

However, that doesn’t mean we feel differently than others — at least I don’t. I like my oldest sister and know she has been knocked around over the years but she is one of the strongest people I know.

She surprised me when we talked about a book we both were reading.

Over the phone, I mentioned a group I was associated with and how we were reading a book about white privilege. She replied her church book group was reading a book like that too and I asked for the book’s title. She replied the book’s title is “Waking Up White…” by Debby Irving and I dang near fell off my chair. It’s the same book I’m reading.

That began a weekly chat. We would read a chapter per week and then discuss what we learned and how our personal experiences related to the author’s writing. I’ve learned so much from and about my sister — she’s stronger, more faith-filled and community minded than I will ever be. She matters greatly to me — as do my other siblings — but I “met” much about her simply by talking about a book with her.

Every time I finished chatting with her, I poured a glass of something and thought about our discussion and how our life’s experiences shaped our view of the world around us. Yes, we can be blind to things outside our mental cabinet of experiences but, seeing outside our boxes, talking outside our boxes and reaching outside our boxes can make the world a safer place to exist.

So, we made it through 2020 — most of us. But, we’ve lost many of us and that hurts. What’s important? Here’s what I like to think we’ve learned this past year.

Family — yes, we can be a pain in the rear to each other but, we are family. That family extends past those in our bloodline — it extends to all humans. We are family and need to care for each other. Because that human family is so diverse, there’s no way one wine can fit everybody. So, no matter the color, taste, aroma or place of origin, let’s raise a glass of wine to each other. Let’s celebrate that, working together, we can wake up to the similarities of each other and see ourselves in others. I’ll raise a glass of Edna Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to that!

Friends — again, some of mine are a pain in my side but, I wouldn’t have it any other way. They balance my deficiencies with their goodness and concern. I like to think just about everyone out there could be a friend of mine– is that Pollyanna thinking? Maybe so, but old and new friends enrich us like nothing else. In some way, reach out to the stranger. They just might become a friend like my old friend Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel. We go back decades, and it never disappoints me with its full body, spiciness and vanilla finish.

Community — it’s who we are, it nurtured us, gave us possibilities and supported us through good and bad times. We can get through this virus thing by remembering that what we do to one of us, we do to all of us. Years ago, I came across a wine from Austria called Blaufränkisch and fell for it. It opened my mind to the large community of winemakers and grape growers. I was gifted a bottle of Evolúció Blaufränkisch and thoroughly enjoy the dark cherry taste and very soft finish. It’ luscious.

Faith — it will give you strength to wade through the rough patches. Faith is very personal and each person decides where they reach for it but, wherever that reach goes, it should be shared. A wine I have faith in is Ava Grace Merlot. When times are iffy, the lightness of the cherry taste and comforting vanilla is always something in which to believe. Reach for it!

Belief — I believe in us. There will be some unknowns to us during this new year but look for the goodness. Again, I was recently gifted a bottle of Dampfwerk Rabbit In The Rye Whiskey. It’s a blend of rye whiskey and an old German liqueur from the Thuringian region of Germany. It was unknown to me even though it’s distilled in St. Louis Park. It was delicious! The spicy rye combines with the sweet liqueur and it’s marvelous.

Family, friends, community, faith and belief will be in abundance this coming year. It’ll be another year of discovery — just like what I discovered about my oldest sister.

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!

Cheers!

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