When I was a kid, New Years Eve was a family occasion. We would all gather – cousins, aunts, uncles and my grandmother – to ring in the New Year together. Everyone would get sparkling wine (even us kids were allowed a token amount) and beneath the stars in the warm South African summer, we would count down to The Big Moment. As the clock stuck midnight, we would toast each other with the sparkling wine, and then we would stand in a circle, link arms and sing Auld Lang Syne.
My mom always cried during these moments, and when I asked her about it once, she answered, “I don’t know why. I just hate New Years Eve.”
As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed a curious pattern that I suspect my mom unwittingly followed. As December 31st approaches each year, we tend to be tearfully nostalgic for the good things we are leaving behind, but in fear of the bad things we think will be carried forward.
What if we approached it the other way round? What if we decided to leave the bad stuff behind and bring the good stuff into the new year with us?
In that spirit, I recently asked people to tell me about their best moments of 2012.
Alison from Malaysia had a pretty good year as she gave birth to her second child. It doesn’t get much better than new life, does it? She describes her pregnancy as a race, and she got the best possible prize at the end of it.
Like me, Cheryl is a special needs mom living in Ontario. We share many of the same frustrations when it comes to getting services or funding for our kids. Cheryl hit a sweet spot in 2012 when she took on an insurance company and WON! She got a medication covered for her daughter, who has cerebral palsy, and she helped pave the way for thousands of other parents in a similar situation.
I can also relate to Melanie from Japan, who’s daughter has difficulty making friends. My son, who has autism, does not have any friends apart from his brother, and I know how hard it is to watch your child sitting alone in the playground simply because he doesn’t know how to make friends. Melanie had a lovely moment last year when her daughter made a new friend.
As parents, we bask in the accomplishments of our children, and Purnima from India shares her young son’s success as he played a key role in his school’s Annual Day Program.
My cousin Gillian (a.k.a. “Mug”), who lives in
the back of beyond Tasmania, was given that all-too-rare commodity in 2012: the gift of time. She has a job AND a farm, and judging from some of her adventures, farm animals can sometimes be more wayward than children. So when she was able to start working four days a week instead of five, it was a welcome break for her.
(On a side note, I have a confession. Before Mug moved to Tasmania, I didn’t realize it was an actual place. I thought it was a mythical place with a mythical devil.)
Tania from Puerto Rico did a fair amount of traveling last year. When her husband had to go to Paris on business, she went with him. On the day of their arrival, they went to a live performance by their favourite band, Coldplay. Coldplay has never performed in Puerto Rico, so this was icing on the cake for Tania.
For some people, the best moments of 2012 arose from something bad. Margie from Arkansas had a great year that culminated in her obtaining a hard-earned Bachelors degree. As impressive as that was, it paled in comparison to the time she found out that her fiancee was alive and more or less in one piece after being hit by a car.
Karyn from New Zealand had one of those moments as well, when her eldest son had a surfing accident. All three of her boys handled the crisis remarkably well and made Karyn realize that she can enjoy parenting more, knowing that the groundwork has been laid.
My own year was a perfect example of good moments arising from bad events. In February, a beloved aunt died in a freak accident, and I flew to South Africa to be with family. My time there was bittersweet. There was sadness and shock as we all started the process of calibrating ourselves to a life without someone who had been very much loved. But there were also moments of joy and laughter, of peace and togetherness.
One moment in particular stands out for me.
My brother and I went to see a movie together. This in itself was a momentous occasion, not only because my brother and I hardly ever spend time together on account of living on different continents, but because it had been years since I had seen a movie made by someone other than Disney Pixar.
After the movie, we went to the rooftop bar of a nearby hotel for a drink. As we sat there talking and enjoying the last of the day’s sunlight together, I realized that this was one of those perfect moments in life – one of those moments that you want to capture and carry around with you forever.
What was your best moment of 2012? What good stuff are you bringing with you into 2013?
(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevgibbo/706220224. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)