Wednesday, December 31, 2008


It's New Years Eve. May yours be happy and safe, and our best wishes for 2009. As tonight ends the old year, I find myself reflecting on times past, both good and not so good, earmarked by the nights that defined and provided closure to years, decades, and even centuries. As we look forward to the change that tomorrow will herald, let us give thanks for our blessings and bid farewell to those things we would happily discard. The new year will be what we make of it and here's to Auld Lang Syne.

From my twenties to several years into my fourth decade I did not like New Years Eve. Each year, as Christmas gave center stage to Auld Lang Syne, I tried to shrug off the gloom . "Another year gone," I would say to myself. "Another year of life past with no particular achievements to show for it." I would sigh, shrug, and go out to dinner. Resolutions unfufilled, I wondered just what it was I was supposed to be doing and accomplishing, but the answers never came.

I haven't felt that way in a long time. Since way back in the 20th century in fact. Now, I look forward to the New Year and the adventures it may bring while saluting the recent past. This year is no exception. Personally, I've been lucky in 2008...and I count my blessings. Thanks to an inheritance, I was able to pay off my house and all my debt. I welcomed my first grandchild into the world and enjoyed the birth of Danny's first step grandchild. I published my third book. And, now that "Marley" is no longer alive, I have the world's worst dog! Here's to Chili. I look forward to 2009 which will herald Danny and my 7th happy year together, bring a new son-in-law into the family on January 3rd, a grand daughter in April, a new and hopefully better era in Washington DC, and...well...who knows what other adventures yet unfortold?

Now undeniably, this year, 2008, has been a bad one for most people. I keep hearing folks say, "I won't be sorry to say good bye to 2008." Well, they have good reason. Horrible weather disasters, global warming, terrorism, war. Political scandels and business double crosses. And we all know what a crappy year it has been financially for most of us in America. People out of work who can't get new jobs due to hiring freezes and companies going belly up each day. Massive credit debt. Houses lost to forclosure. People getting sick with no health insurance. Stocks plummeting and retirement savings trickling away like sand in an hourglass. Locally, we've seen all the same problems as anyone else in our benighted country as well as increasing crime such as the horrific murders of a lovely young graduate student at UCF and the senseless murder and subsequent cover up of the murder of little Kaylee Anthony. Yeah, good bye and good riddance to 2008.

This morning, for some reason, I woke up trying to remember what I had done on the last dozen or so New Years Eves. While the required coffee was brewing, I sat down with pad and pencil at the kitchen table and numbered the years from 1994 t0 2008. That's actually 14 years, but I always like to set the bar a little higher when asking a lot of my memory. Just for practice and also since those were significant years in my 'life passages' folder. In 1994, I was separated with a divorce pending after several decades of being married. Color me then hopeful, happily adjusting to positive new experiences for the first time as a single adult while somewhat nervous about a financial future then uncertain. I remember spending New Years at an incredibly crowded Universal Studios with my friends Joanie and Angelo. Despite waiting in lines for hours to ride Kong and Jaws and the appropriately named Back to the Future, we had a blast. At midnight, Joanie said, "Happy New Year, everything is going to get better and better from now on." Joanie was right. Each year after that, I learned new things, gained confidence in my abilities and talents, made new friends, helped in many ways to promote the arts in Central Florida, fundraised, and discovered a whole brave new world when I began to write poetry and fiction.

I won't detail all the rest of the 20th century New Years Eves in order except to say that they were spent with friends at parties of one sort or another. Several were at Scottish Hogmany events. One year I went Sea World on a miserbly cold night with my kids and high school chum Shelley who recently returned to live here from Colorado. I almost didn't go to a party on New Years 1999 fearing that on the stroke of midnight, all civilized life would stop, and I might have to face a thirty minute walk alone in the dangerous dark to get home to my stranded dogs. Sounds pretty silly now, but the press kept telling us that all computers would stop and we would plunge back into the dark ages. I remember how we all waited with baited breath for something awful to happen at 12:01 and when nothing did, we shrugged and partied on. We had nothing to fear but fear itself.

2001 was the first New Years I spent Home Alone. I dreaded the night, but discovered it actually wasn't so bad. I made myself a steak dinner, watched rental DVD's and walked dogs. Nothing to fear but fear itself again. I thought my New Years might be like 2oo1 for the duration but I was wrong and once again Joanie's prediction was correct. 2002 was the first New Years I spent with Danny. The new century has been pretty great, at least on a personal level. Bring on 2009. I believe its just going to keep getting better.

Ta. Live long and prosper.

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