“Here’s to a Happy, Exciting and Dull New Year,” column for Dec. 23, 2014

I meant to write a Christmas letter, the kind that organized, interesting, happy people write to say they’re still organized, interesting and happy.┬áBut I kept getting distracted and pretty soon I started thinking I’d make it a New Year’s letter and pretend that was my intention all along.

Thing is, I’m not much for pretending. There was a time when I could fake it with the best of them, but I got over that. Life’s too short to be anything but real. Besides, fakery never fools anybody. We all know a phony when we see one. Or read one, as the case may be.

So I’d begin my letter saying I meant to do it for Christmas but got distracted … which didn’t sound very organized, let alone interesting or happy.

And then, as I studied the calendar to refresh my memory of the year, I had to admit: My year was not all that interesting. Nothing especially exciting happened. No weddings. No major milestones. No births in our immediate family (a fifth grandchild is due soon.) And, thank the Lord, no deaths.

No cruises, safaris or trips to exotic places, unless you count California, which I do. A lot of birthdays and other causes for celebration, but none of the usual braggy stuff you read in Christmas/New Year’s letters.

When my children were small, one of our favorite books was “Nothing Ever Happens on My Block” by Ellen Raskin. It’s about a boy named Chester who complains his life is a total bore because “nothing ever happens on my block.” Meanwhile, all around him, unnoticed, all heck is breaking loose: A house burns. A masked man skulks. A parachute floats from the sky.

Life on his block is anything but dull. But Chester doesn’t notice because he’s too busy being bored.

Sometimes I’m a bit like Chester, blind to all the good things around me because I’m too busy noticing the bad.

So I took a closer look at the calendar and my memories, and this is how I saw it, what I did this past year: I watched sunsets with my husband. Laughed with my children. Wrestled with my grandchildren. Spent hours on the phone or a computer talking or writing to people I love or wish I could know better.

I met all sorts of interesting characters, young and old, near and far, and made friends with strangers I may never see again.

I cooked, did laundry and loaded a dishwasher more times than I care to recall. Got groceries, picked up my mail, paid my bills and ate out every chance I could.

I trotted miles on a treadmill, though clearly not nearly enough. Saw my share of doctors and dentists, but again, thank the Lord, got no reports I couldn’t live with.

I wrote a column every week and marveled each time I heard from someone who said they found meaning in my work.

I spent hours watching hummingbirds that hovered at my window, families of quail that darted along my fence and jack rabbits that ate my lawn.

I wish you could’ve seen them.

That was my year more or less. Watching, working, laughing, loving, trying to be truly alive. It’s all the excitement I need.

Years ago, I sat on a porch with my stepfather watching lightning play on the mountain. We’d had a hard spell, having lost to cancer in only a few years my first husband, my mother and my brother’s wife. But we’d survived it all as a family.

That night, my stepfather said this: “It’s been a hard time for all of us. But right now, we’re doing OK. Everybody’s got a job. Nobody’s got cancer. This is a good time in our family. We ought to remember it.”

Two years later, he, too, was gone, taken by cancer. I’ll never forget his words. Life is good. We ought to remember it.

I wish for us all a year of sunsets and birds, love and laughter, meaningful work, interesting people, time to enjoy it and someone to share it with.

Let’s hope it’s both exciting and dull in all the best of ways.

Comments

  1. Rebecca Bishop says:

    I looooove “Nothing Ever Happens On My Block!” It’s one of my all-time favorites from my childhood. It’s exciting to hear that someone else loves it, too! As for a slow year, “No news is good news,” they used to say during WWII, and it still holds true. I love how your stepfather put it and I try to think about that everyday. We’re here; we’re safe; life is good!

  2. Lynda Winter says:

    Sharon,
    My husband and I look forward to reading your column each Monday morning. You are a gifted writer and a very down to earth person. This mornings column was the best you have written so far. We often relate to the experiences that you site in your life. 2014 was a difficult year for us, but you made us think about the many positive things that happened each day. We appreciate your writings.

  3. Jo says:

    Sharon, I look forward to your columns so much. You have a true writing gift and am so glad you share it with us. Also, I feel you are “the real deal” and this comes through in your writing. Bless you and your family and the best to you in 2015.

  4. shashi says:

    Thank you Sharon for reminding ” life is really short ” very long for people who live for nothing longer than they want . They enjoy living in hell and die in hell but we think they were burden on earth . Last few days were so stressful thinking about school children who were killed without any fault in Pakistan .
    Then I try to forget that bad news . Then I try to smile each day ,counting my blessings and praying for my kids and families ,begging in front of Lord who is everywhere for keeping them safe . We all live with hope ,we all want to be safe , Bless you and family and I pray for all to fulfill their tasks and enjoy what they have.Thank u . Stay blessed and Have a great new year !! 2015 full of new miracles . ! All the best for new baby on the way !

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