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January 01, 2006: Ushering in

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When I got up yesterday morning my back was still sore, but it had subsided into a mostly low-grade ache. This was a good thing, considering that I needed to collect all of Richard's birthday presents from where I'd stashed them around the house, and this included the complete Calvin and Hobbes collection, which has been living in the trunk of my car and is rather heavy and not the sort of thing one should be carting around if one's back was wrenched.

I made a coffee cake for breakfast with some experimental streusel (it involved mini chocolate chips and toffee bits, because we happened to have them both in the cupboard) and wrapped all of Richard's presents and the cake was just about ready to come out of the oven by the time Richard woke up. So he made coffee and I made glaze for the cake and we ate breakfast at the dining room table for a change, since that's where I'd stacked all his presents. And in between bites of cake and sips of coffee he opened them all.

He's had a low-grade fever on and off, and has been coughing and wheezing the past day or two, so we spent his birthday in a quiet and low-key way. We went out only once, to get lunch and swing by the grocery store for the ingredients for our New Year's Eve dinner. We'd originally planned to go out for dinner, but with him being sick and me still recovering, and more importantly, with the rather crazy weather we've been having, I'm glad we stayed home instead.

We made pizza fondue for dinner, and while I was shredding the cheese Richard noted that s'mores would be a lot of fun for dinner, since we haven't used the s'mores maker he bought for me in a year or two. So he zipped back to the store to pick up marshmallows and graham crackers and chocolate bars. And then we put in some movies - March of the Penguins and Miracle on 34th Street (the original with Natalie Wood) and stuffed ourselves silly with bread and melted cheese and toasted marshmallows and chocolate and sticky goodness. In my family, the New Year's tradition has always been to go get lots of ice cream, gather up all the leftover Christmas cookies and candy, and do our best to finish them all off. It's always been our own version of 'drinking to excess', except that our version doesn't leave anyone incapable of driving, or hung over the next day. Richard and I didn't exactly do the same thing, but I think cheese and chocolate to excess was in the right spirit.

So now here is the part where I am supposed to get all maudlin and think back over the old year and list off all my dreams and hopes and goals for the new one, and declare that 2006 will be better than any year before it. Except that I cannot really find it in me to care, you see. New Year's Eve has never been a huge celebration for me. It marks the end of the year, but only because someone arbitrarily decided that this day was the last day of one calendar and tomorrow would be the start of the next. In the grand scheme of life this means nothing at all except for some people it is an excuse to go have a party. And I am certainly not knocking excuses to go out and have a party, if that is your thing, but it just isn't mine.

We watched the ball drop in Times Square (on television, of course) because that is tradition, and outside in the street we could hear people setting off firecrackers and blowing horns. But inside, it is just another night that happens to also be Richard's birthday, and today is just another day, and I learned long ago that making resolutions that are set to start on the first day of an arbitrary calendar really doesn't mean much or change anything.

Still, I know there are a lot of people who might be glad to be done with 2005 because a new calendar does offer a frame for what could be a new, shiny chapter in someone's life. So on the first day of 2006, here's hoping that good things come to those who need them, and that if you really want to make those resolutions come true, that this be the year you find the strength to do so.

Happy Holidailies

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