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A New Year's (un)celebration

Today is the last day of 2018. I’m not much for big New Year’s Eve celebrations. For a reason I can’t really explain, watching the NYE disco ball drop just irritates me. I’d rather watch Narcos on Netflix.

I think the last time I truly celebrated ringing in the new year with total abandon was on a cruise ship party 25 years ago – I danced my feet off and drank waaaay too much New Year’s cheer. At the time, my husband and I were anxiously awaiting the birth of our first grandchild in February; the future of our family then was one big question mark, since the baby's mother was barely 18, a senior in high school, and still living with us. Thank God we didn’t know what awaited us within a few years– over twenty years navigating the aftermath of our daughter's impending addiction. Our past couple of decades are littered with the debris of family upheaval. Her drug addiction has produced, repeatedly, powerful emotional disruption that fans out like earthquake shockwaves from its epicenter – our home - involving the whole family. The aftershocks continue, though now not quite so intense; yet there remains among us, her family, a disquiet and ever-present foreboding that another major disturbance could strike any day.

My husband were left to pick up the pieces after the first earthquake that shook the family – the horrific discovery that our gifted and beautiful eldest child was addicted to heroin. A lot of other people in our family have since been swept into the aftermath of that life-altering moment in time: my mother and stepdad, now gone, whose hearts were broken when they learned their precious first grandchild had fallen into the abyss of addiction; my son and other daughter, who helplessly watched their sister unravel and still harbor resentment that she has never grown up and accepted her adult responsibilities; and most of all, the three children she bore, all of whom have been raised by their grandparents and, in many ways, abandoned by their biological parents.

Perhaps our past influences my tendency to greet the new year with a bit of apprehension and cynicism, not the stereotypical open arms embracing the exciting possibilities that the new year holds. Why not? It seems my husband and I haven’t even emerged from one complicated quagmire of uncertainty till we are faced with another – the looming and inevitable health consequences of living on this earth for over 70 years.

Yet, truly, there have been so many victories along the way that balance out the negative…too many to even count. Our son got a college degree and a stable job and has provided our grandsons with a role model for what a man should be – humble, kind, even-tempered, and devoted to family. Our middle daughter has built an enviable career and home and serves her community tirelessly. She and her husband, whom we love, have blessed us with two delightful grandchildren, whom we love unconditionally, and they have allowed us to spoil these kids without restraint. Our other three grandchildren – the ones for whom we have been both parent and grandparent- have brought us joy beyond description. Raising your grandchildren is like a do-over. You quit sweating the small stuff like you did with your kids, and you appreciate the fact that their time with you is limited as you watch them grow. All our grandkids have been healthy, exceptionally intelligent, creative/talented, funny, and are just good human beings who have enriched our lives immeasurably. And there have been so many other blessings. I’m truly grateful that I chose a career that enabled me to serve others – 39 years well-spent, and that I made so many good friends along the way. I’m thankful for the gift of putting words on paper that people like to read, and I’ll keep on writing, whether people read what I compose or not. I feel exceptionally fortunate that my husband survived a life-threatening infection this year and that we’re still together after half a century, and that we laugh a lot. I’m comforted by the belief that there is a God who loves me regardless of my frailties and doubts.

So…life hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would back on that cruise ship, but I don’t think it does for anybody, does it? So far, the joy has far overshadowed the sorrow, no question. But celebrate the new year like I did back in 1993? Nope. It’s just another day. To admit the absolute truth, I’m tired, which probably shades my attitude. The month of December holds my birthday, Christmas, my anniversary, and my grandson’s birthday. Maybe my celebration quota is full? Regardless, I know in the coming year I probably won’t lose weight and get fit, go to church every Sunday, cook a family meal every night, write a bestseller, or travel to parts unknown, so no resolutions for me. Undoubtedly, 2019 has some surprises in store – some exciting, some disappointing, some hilarious, some not funny at all. So…instead of wishing everybody a “Happy New Year”, I’ll just say, “Yep, it’s a new year, God’s in his Heaven, and we’re still here.” Reason enough to be happy.

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