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Reflecting on endings, beginnings

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Santa has come and gone, leaving gifts for children, both young and old. Once again, he proved he grades on a curve in the "naughty or nice" category, even leaving a stocking stuffed full for this newspaper publisher.

Now it's on to the New Year, reviewing an eventful 2011, and looking ahead to what 2012 has in store.

We saw the worst of what Mother Nature could hand out this year, with tornadoes flattening Joplin, Mo., and the Missouri River flexing its muscle, covering miles of land as it overflowed its banks.

We also saw her smile on us, with relatively balmy holiday weather than enabled folks to head over the river and through the woods with ease. For those purists disappointed with the lack of a white Christmas, I say "phooey!" It's what's inside your house that matters on Christmas Day, not what lies on the ground outside.

Personally, 2011 meant dealing with health issues (much better as the year closes, thank goodness), a never-ending home remodeling project, and struggling with the fact that my son is in his last year of high school.

2012? Well, the parade of political candidates will be out of our fair state in another week, taking with them the negativity, glad-handing and baby-kissing that marks our every-four-year status as the center of the political universe.

My husband and I will experience an empty nest in 2012. In sorting through the thousands of photos that document the life of my son, I recently came across photos of his graduation from kindergarten. That bright-eyed, tow-headed youngster standing proudly behind a cake emblazoned with the words "Congratulations, Class of 2012" can't possibly be the same child who will, once again this spring, stand behind a cake with those same words.

Everyone tells you that time flies, but that photo is an especially poignant reminder of its fleet feet.

With the prospect of graduation, and graduation parties, that home remodeling project promises to be complete this spring. The idea of a completed home, with new everything, is something big to look forward to over the next couple of months.

There are those who point to the Mayan calendar's abrupt end in December of 2012 as a sign that the coming year might be a bit more, well, exciting than we'd like. I say the ancient Mayans just got bored, and stopped. After all, chiseling dates into stone is a tedious task. Maybe they got called away to work on a temple or something.

If there's one thing I'm certain of, the coming year will bring surprises, both good and bad; joys and sorrows; laughter and tears. It's the ceaseless ebb and flow of life that continues to make it interesting.

I'm generally not a big one for New Year's resolutions. My attention span is too short to allow for a year's focus on one thing. However, I make exception for the following quote from the indomitable Helen Keller, who knew a thing or two about facing adversity.

"Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties."

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By Paula Buenger