In with the new. Except to document the progress of contractions, labor, and the birth of a baby, the second hand on the clock is rarely watched so closely as New Year's Eve. Whether you're out with friends, or snuggled comfortably at home with the ones you love, the tick, tick, tick of the countdown symbolizes the anticipation of the new year to come. For as long as I can remember, the stroke of midnight on that last day in December has always been accompanied by a lump in my throat, and oftentimes, a misty feeling in my eyes. I've never really figured out why. From the times I remember as a kid at home with my parents and brother, to celebrating in my own home with my own family, to partying with friends, to spending some of them alone, a few babysitting my grandchildren, and now entering 2011 with my "new" husband, there's just something emotional about it.
I love this picture, and brazenly swiped it from someone else's blog. It makes me think though, about the waves on the beach. When the waves crash over your sandcastle, the structure itself rarely survives, but often there is a lump in the sand that stands bravely, as a testament to what you so painstakingly created. We often say that a new year is a clean slate, a chance to start over. And it is... but we also carry forth lumps in the sand left over from yesterday's experiences. Hopefully many of them are good, but life is tough, and the mistakes and the hurt that we felt in 2011 will go with us into 2012. We can hope and trust that the waves of time will continue to smooth away the pain, and the sun will shine upon the sand again.
2011 will go down for me as a very good year! A busy year, with much to be grateful for. I married the sweetest man, and bask unashamedly in his love. In doing so, my family increased overnight, and I welcomed his children and grandchildren, mom and siblings, as he has welcomed mine. Our Christmas tree this year was a sign of the increase in our blessings-- not because we spent lots of money, but simply because we have so many with whom to share the holiday.
After calling The 409 home for five years, I moved into Steve's home when we married in April. A huge change for sure! I had been single for 19 years, and had no plans whatsoever to marry again. A few disappointing and painful relationships over the years had left me with the realization that I was much better off just enjoying my daughter and then delving wholeheartedly into the world of Greemaw-ism. No room for dating relationships and/or the complications that inevitably followed. And I made no bones about the fact that I'd never marry again. Obviously Stevie Jay caused me to re-evaluate those resolutions, and I'm so thankful that I gave us a chance. Oh, I fought it tooth and nail in the beginning, but with the counsel of a few wise friends, and The Great Epiphany one day in church, I stopped fighting against myself. And just let it happen. And I'm so thankful!!
The summer of 2011 included our Honeymoon Trip to the beach in June. Our original wedding date was set for June 17th, but a series of events (God-ordained!) found us married April 22nd, but we kept our original plans for the honeymoon. It was a whirlwind week of fun and sun, staying busy, and being lazy. By far my most favorite trip to the beach to date! We're hoping to make lots more memories at Our House At The Beach. (Aunt Joyce and Uncle Gene's townhouse.)
2011 also brought the reunion of our graduating class - the renewal of old friendships, as well as the blossoming of new. Serving on the planning committee, I got to spend some time with several folks that I didn't really know that well in high school, but enjoyed getting to know as we planned. Funny how renewing acquaintances brings you back to your roots. And instilled a longing in my heart to get together more often with my Statham friends, with whom I shared homegrown memories of life in our small town, and attending the same school together "just us" through the 8th grade. It was sad to see how many classmates have passed since we graduated in 1976, and far too often now we read on Facebook where someone has lost a dear parent, or a spouse. Life really is short.
And the hours just whiz by the older I get. I swear, when I was a kid, it took 12 1/2 years for Christmas to come. Now it seems like just a few weeks. Yesterday Steve and I un-decorated the house and put away all the trappings of the holiday. In the blink of an eye, it will be time to bring them out again. My youngest grandchild will start Pre-K this fall. It was only yesterday I was smooching on those sweet little newborn cheeks. Leyliebug is such a grown-up little lady, and watching her takes me back to the days when her mommy was a little girl. She'll be in first grade this next school year.
I find myself wishing constantly for 48-hour days (but leave the 8-hour work day intact, please!) I don't have time to blog any more. I did manage to write about half a chapter in my book in 2011, but I long for more time to finish the research and complete the book. Scrapbooking? Haven't touched it in ages. I need to finish Corey's First Year scrapbook so I can get busy with mine and Steve's wedding scrapbook. Luckily, I never finished Whitney's Wedding Book (she started having babies before I got that one finished!), so I have lots of wedding scrapbook supplies on hand!
Good things happened at The 409, as well. Whitney and Dustin gained full custody of sweet Mary in June, and she has settled in quite well. We are so happy that she is with us now. So thankful to turn an undesirable former situation into one of stability and unconditional love. Dustin went to school, and after passing a rigorous battery of tests, has made a career change and is doing amazing work with a great company. Whitney returned to her former job, and has enjoyed being back at work. Daycare, one of the biggest challenges of working parents, is manageable, and I'm fortunate to be able to spend time with the kids and help out when they're out of school. Mom and Dad are enjoying good health, and they love spending time with the kids too, and are able to help out when needed.
Steve and Joe stayed busy throughout the summer, and we are grateful to all the people who continue to use Greater South for their construction/remodeling needs.
DJ and David welcomed their first grandchild, Ryan Philip, into the world on November 30th. Such fun to watch them in this new role. The sight of a baby in their arms has been long coming, and we are so thankful for this new life.
Michael and Linda continue to work on the farm, and at the annual Hillbilly Hippiefest, chose "Star Valley Farm" as the name of their corner of Eden. Steve and I were able to attend the event, and it remains one of my favorite memories of 2011. Their future plans for the farm are amazing, and I can't wait to watch them unfold.
One of the girls I grew up with was unable to make it home for the reunion in October. She was in town after Christmas and seven of us gals met for dinner. Boy, did we ever have fun! Memory Lane for us is Broad Street in Statham, and we traveled up and down the lane all evening. I'll bet some ears were burning somewhere!! There's just something so gratifying about revisiting my youth with ones who were such a huge part of it... and knowing that we share the same roots. We talked and laughed (hysterically at times, when a malfunctioning camera kept shooting crazy shots even without the shutter button being pressed!), and when we parted, we promised to do it again soon.
There's always the sad part of saying goodbye to dear friends as they pass from this life, and we were called upon to do that as well in 2011. But hope lies eternal, and for those of us who believe, death is not the end.
2012 now lies before me. A few lumps in the sand brought over from 2011, for sure, but an empty beach as far as my eyes can see. I hope the decisions I make will be good ones, built firmly on solid ground, far from the reach of the crashing waves. I hope I take time to stop and smell the roses, and love those around me in such a way that they never question my love or devotion. I hope to spend more time with family, and enjoy lots of grandbaby love and kisses. I hope I will love myself enough to grab hold and hang on tightly to my resolve to make healthier choices, making 2012 the year that I regain my health. I hope I will devote more time to matters of my faith... because my faith matters so very much. I hope that I will be an encouragement to the downtrodden, a ray of sunshine to the sad, and a balm to those in pain. I hope that I will mean as much to my friends as they mean to me. I hope that my relationship with my husband will continue to grow ever stronger and sweeter, and that our home will be full of love, happiness, and the laughter of our grandchildren!
And I hope the same things for you. Happy New Year!! May your 2012 be blessed.