“Hope for a New Year,” Dec. 31, 2019

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 has 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 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 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.

Happy 2020!

Comments

  1. Kathy Armstrong says:

    Sharon, I just needed to tell you again how much you are such a bright spot in my life. My Sunday mornings start with reading your columns on line and feeling like I was just wrapped in a hug by you. Thank you for sharing your joy and laughter. God Bless.

  2. Kate Sciacca says:

    Well, 2019 brought a new granddaughter- and that smart little Charlotte arrived on my 63rd birthday… I might forget all the others – but never Miss Charlotte’s special day 🙂. And we welcomed a beautiful new daughter-in-law in August – this could mean more grandbabies in 2020😉
    I often tell the kids “say some nice words about your mama when she dies…. lie if you must!”

    Seems like it was only a year or two ago when you wrote your “final column” (though it was likely four years ago or so…)— I thank the Good Lord that it wasn’t 😀. Happy 2020 – a toast to you and all of yours!

  3. Patsy Styers says:

    I love your column’s. They are special and I can’t wait for them to come out. Happy New Year to you and your lovely family.

  4. Jana Stewart says:

    Thank you so much for your articles over this past year. They always bring a smile to my face, food for thought and joy to my heart. This Christmas my children and most of my grandkids celebrated on Christmas Eve. We shared the fun of being together once again, the little side jokes that only family members truly understand and the fun of anticipation as each present was unwrapped. I wish you could have seen it.

    Here’s wishing you and your family a happy and healthy New year.

  5. Anne Davis says:

    You and your writing are always a gem!💜

  6. Reba Underhill says:

    I love to read your columns. They remind me to always be thankful . I turn 80next month so I know time is not on my side but I’m thankful for every day I wake up and make it through the day for my family and loved ones Happy New Year to you and yours.

  7. Debbie says:

    Thanks for another year of columns, Sharon!!!! I have enjoyed them all!!!! A very Happy, Blessed New Year to you and your sweet family!!!! Debbie💚💚💚

  8. Janet Mann says:

    Thank you for your columns Sharon. They inspire me and lift me up. I lost my husband of 58 yrs and 10 mos. in Sept. Life without him is totally different, but I have a family, though they are far off, and they surround me with their love and care. I also lost my cousin who was like my sister in Dec. Two deaths so close of people I loved have left me a little drained, but I know that they are with our LORD and SAVIOR and that helps me keep the good memories alive. Grandchildren have a way of making everything alright. As I write these words, the tears are flowing, but they are not only tears of sadness, but of joy of having had these two people in my life for so long. Here is hoping you have a BLESSED NEW YEAR and keep on loving like you do.

  9. Elaine Mccaffery says:

    You tell your stories so wonderfully. I feel like you’re family. I wish you were family. You make me smile and you make me think., and quit feeling sorry for myself and try to find the good in all the bad. Sometimes , I feel there is nothing good , hopefully the new year will be better. One could only hope. Here’s wishing you a great 2020

  10. Peggy Paulin says:

    Always enjoy your columns. They never fail to make me think, cheer me up, and help me to remember how blessed I am!

  11. Janice Sizemore says:

    Love your writings, and they always make me smile!
    Happy New Year to you and your family! Let’s make some new memories in 2020!!

  12. Fred Hernandez says:

    I figure I’ll love you even more next year.

  13. Sylvia Short says:

    I love your stories! My cousin from Indiana led me to you. Your like one of our family! Thank you for you writtings.

  14. Jo Anne Roberts says:

    Oooh! I love what you said! You always make me smile. And remind me of the things that are so good. You warm my heart, even when my mortality is staring me in the eye. This year we celebrated my 60th class reunion. Imagine! And our 60th year of happy marriage. We are grateful for the time we have shared and the friends and loved ones we have known. Time is not on our side, so we enjoy each day together. May your days be many and your troubles few.

  15. Cheryl says:

    Love it. Your columns revive me, inspire me, and give me hope. Thank you for what you do.

  16. Dick Daniel says:

    This was great, as usual. Have a wonderful new year, Sharon & family.

  17. Jeannette Buck says:

    You never cease to make me smile; and Sharon, you always make me think and remember. Thank you.

  18. I can say nice things about you Sharon while you are still here. I love your columns I feel as if I’m right there with you lovin those grandbabies.

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