My trees have been stripped of their ornaments, my wreaths and decorations have been placed in their storage boxes and put away for another year. Today is December 28th and for us, Christmas is over and I dislike chores from one year lingering into a new one. Besides, our tree is always up on American Thanksgiving and it’s twinkling lights and the glow of holly berry scented candles, give our home a warm and inviting feeling of comfort and peace that only the Christmas season can deliver. As the boys have grown, Christmas has become a lot less prominent and when Santa was done delivering presents to our home, it’s been harder for me to get wrapped up in the Christmas spirit. But in spite of some Christmases being “autism difficult” and some tainted by the loss of a loved one, Christmas still has a special place in my heart. I have learned that less is more and giving is better than receiving and that not giving anything but a kind, meaningful wish of “Merry Christmas” to someone is even better. Stepping away from the commercialism of Christmas gets easier as one’s children get older as no one really has a list anymore. No one needs anything. Spending time together seems to be the one thing we all really want as time is something we rarely have and once we’ve done that with extended family and friends, just being at home, eating, watching movies, playing games or just sleeping in a quiet home caps off the perfect Christmas.
Whenever I put the lid on the last box of decorations, I get a little afraid. It’s the same fear I feel on New Year’s Eve – fear of the unknown. I don’t know if my hands will touch these boxes of decorations again and if they do, I don’t know who will or won’t be with us a year later. I’ve experienced that before in life and I know we will all experience it again but, like every year, I have hope for another good chapter of my life. When one is young, goals, plans and events are the stuff of life that makes it worth living. When one grows up, those things still do hold some meaning but at the same time, holds less value. A good year for me now is making it all the way to the end of it with everyone that I know and love, still healthy and present in my life. It’s funny and stupid but once mid January rolls around, I breathe a little easier. I mean, there is no guarantee things will not change, but by mid January, I suppose I feel like I’ve settled into the swing of things for the new year.
I never appreciate when people are eager to say good riddance to a year. Sure bad things happen and sometimes things don’t go as we expect or would like them to, but if we are upright and breathing and we are able to open our eyes on January 1st, the year couldn’t have been so bad. I hear people gripe about the year and how bad or unlucky it was and as much as can appreciate hard times and bad luck and missed opportunities, I fail to understand why people do not realize that what goes on in a year is very much our own doing. Our years turn out the way they do sometimes because of the choices we make and sometimes things just don’t line up the way we think they should. But at the end of every scenario, there is an outcome and we adapt and we live with whatever that outcome is. We keep going, meandering about the obstacles in our way, wondering if indeed things happen for a reason and if one door slams shut in our face, would another door with a more attractive prize will indeed open up to us.
I have redefined myself over the years. I am selfless but I know when my selfishness is justified. I have met many new friends and rediscovered dear old ones. I have many acquaintances and have released many whom I once called friend. Life is about sorting, and re-adjusting and modifying people, places and things. Life is about adapting to the situations in which you find yourself. It is about making many mistakes and becoming so much wiser for having made them. Life is about learning and re-inventing who you are and allowing yourself to move with the beautiful spirit we were all blessed with. Life is about loving yourself so you can love others and it is about always seeking the answers …always seeking the truth. Life is about standing firm in what you believe and never apologizing for who you are but also aware enough to apologize when you are wrong.
I think I am not going to be afraid of the unknown anymore but rather look forward to another chance; a sort of re-birth. Maybe the new year will bring world peace. Maybe the new year will bring a surefire cure for cancer or maybe it will bring an end to hunger and poverty because our species would have finally realized that generosity is far more powerful than greed and love is more impacting than hatred. Maybe kindness will override terror once and for all and we could begin to exist on our planet each species living in harmony alongside each other. A simple yet complicated wish all at once, I’m afraid, but it is my wish nonetheless. I hope the new year unfolds new and exciting chapters in my boys’ lives. That they will continue to dream big and give life their best shot. I hope the new year brings even more maturity and positive change to my autistic son’s life. That there will be an end to some of the things that hold him back and a birth of new skills and ideas that will help shape him into the adult he is to become. 2017 exposed both our boys to loss this year. They have (if only briefly due to their youth) spent time thinking about the fragility of life, it’s unpredictability and the importance of making every day count. Over the next few years, they will face more loss and the reality of death will make a groove in their minds. I hope when that happens it pushes them to embrace this wonderfully fascinating albeit short journey that is life even more. I want them to never miss an opportunity to try something different that could impact their lives in positive way. How I envy their youth …their time…their fearlessness and their ability to dream. When it comes to my extended family members, there are specific things I wish for each of them but I will keep those safe in my heart.
Well, 2017,thank you for the good things we got, the things we didn’t. Thanks equally for the achievements and for the disappointments. Thanks for the laughs we had and the tears we might have shed and for the lessons we learned. Thank you for what you have allowed me to observe and the decisions you have allowed me to make. What we lived through with you will shape the year that is to come and many years thereafter.
Life is short even if we get to live a long time.Life is sweet even when it seems unkind or harsh. Let us be grateful for what we have, what we shared, whom we’ve loved and whom we have released and let us look within ourselves to create hope and to recreate the things we have destroyed and to learn never to destroy again. Life is tough and life is pain yet it is this thing that we want to hang onto in spite of our struggles – well for most of us anyway – and why not? What else is there that is so raw and difficult on the one hand yet so beautiful and uplifting on the other? What else is there that we can do so badly one day and do so well the next? There is nothing like life. It is all we know and it is a gift we must treasure and we must learn to live it well. Welcome 2018 – whatever you may bring. Happy New Year everyone! Live your life!