The dawn of a new year invites us to look back, give thanks, and smile at whatever lies ahead.
I find it easier to let go of the past when I have something to look forward to in the future.
For me, 2019 was a year of change. I suspect it was for you, as well. Is there ever a year, or even a day, that we don’t face some kind of change?
We turn a year older. Get married. Have a baby. Change jobs. Or we lose someone we love that we thought we could never live without.
I remember my college biology professor saying that a living cell is always changing; when it stops changing, it dies.
Life is change, and we change with it. But some years bring more change than others.
Last spring, my husband and I sold the house where I had lived most of my adult life, the place where my late husband and I had raised our three children.
I loved that house, and all the memories it held for me. I never wanted to live anywhere else. But in time, my knees began complaining about the stairs. I could slide down the banister, but sliding up was a problem.
So we sold it and moved to a much smaller place 20 miles out of town, on a hill surrounded by mountains that remind me of the mountains I loved as a child growing up in North Carolina.
It was hard letting go of my old house and the town that I had called “home.” But here’s something interesting that I’ve learned about loss: It always comes with gifts. The greater the loss, the greater the gift. Have you noticed that, too?
It’s been such a gift for me to wake up each morning, as I did long ago, in a green cradle of mountains. I had no idea how much I had missed them.
Another big change for me this year was the addition of two more grandchildren, bringing our combined total to eight.
In March, my husband’s son and his wife gave birth to their third child, Beatrix. And in April, my son and his wife welcomed Jonah, their first.
I wish you could see them.
We are fortunate to have all our children and grandchildren closeby -- five minutes to five hours away -- all within reach. And we reach for them often.
When my husband retired from a lifetime as a newspaper editor, I couldn’t help thinking about what a friend had told me after her husband retired: “I married that guy for better or worse, but not for lunch!”
I needn’t have worried. Leaving the newsroom just gave my husband more time to play his bass. He practices for hours every day in the garage and plays in a band, cheered on by his biggest fans, our 8- and 9-year-old grandsons. And we take turns making lunch.
As for me, by some miracle, I still have the same job I’ve loved for almost 30 years. I wrote 50 columns this year (with two weeks off for good behavior) and was so happy to hear from readers all around the country who were kind enough to write and say that my stories are their stories, too. Imagine that.
Some things change, but some things stay the same. It’s worth waking up each day just to see what will happen next.
What am I looking forward to in the coming year? Life. It’s good for me and my family. I pray it is for you and yours.
When you look back on 2019, what are the memories, and who are the people, that make you smile and fill your heart with gratitude? In what ways did your life change this year? What do you look forward to in 2020?
Here’s my New Year’s wish for you, one that my grandmother would wish for me:
May all your hopes and dreams come true and your fears never come to pass.
May you give with grace and receive with gratitude, knowing either way you are blessed.
May God hold you in his hand and never close his fist too tight.
And may you say nice things about me when I’m gone.