Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's the End of the Year as We Know It

Another year done, and another year older. I get to say that because December 31 is my birthday. My dad refers to me as the ultimate tax deduction which makes my brother who was born on January 7 something close to the Anti-Christ, or a commie tax-raising deficit-spending liberal. (Same things actually. Or so I’ve heard.)

But I digress. For the first time I feel every creak, twinge, and pang of my age. There’s the chronic shoulder/back pain, the nagging toothache from a botched root canal, and the shrieks of protest from my knees as I negotiate the stairs in our house. (Hey, it’s my birthday, I get to complain all I want.) Yes, these can all be cured by going to a doctor and dentist and getting off my butt and perhaps doing some manual labor. But I’d rather just complain about it.

2009 is a year that St. Pauli Girl and I are excited about forgetting. And we have enough wine and liquor in the house to make us forget as we traverse into the new year this evening. We like to play a game: “What Will We Be Doing in Five Years?” That game is immediately followed by “Five Years Ago, Could We Have Ever Imagined Where We Are Now?” And the latter game always makes me wonder why we play the former. It’s mind boggling, the changes that can happen in five years--let alone sometimes in just one year. Yet, highly trained journalists can sum it up in top ten lists.

On January 1, 2009, I sat on a dock on a lake in 75 degree weather bragging to my brother on the phone. I remember thinking that life is good. I also remember thinking, “We’ll close the restaurant next year on January 1 because everyone stays home and watches football.” Turns out I don’t have to worry about that. And so I sit in a ridiculously cold house today, aching for spring because I’m now an old weenie who can’t handle 40 degree weather. Is life good? Our dog sleeping soundly out in the sun seems to think so.

But I am lucky. I’ve never much cared about my birthday (if you wanna toast or blame someone, toast or blame my parents!) But St. Pauli Girl does and tonight I will enjoy an amazing home-cooked feast of homemade bread, a sweetbreads appetizer, smoked prime rib, hand-rolled gnocchi, and a chocolate chip cookie stack with homemade ice cream (Hey it’s my birthday, I can have whatever I want!). Then we have promised ourselves we will actually stay up until midnight this year and pop the champagne that will wash away 2009. We hope we can stay up that late. Four months ago, we went to bed after midnight every night, but now by the time midnight rolls around, we’ve been snoring for hours. Perhaps we’ll pretend we live in New Brunswick and celebrate the new year at 10:00 p.m. local time.

St. Pauli Girl and I came up with our own little saying that I can’t exactly share here, but it essentially means that life is what you make of it. Or, the best things in life are free. And so tonight we will live the life we want with good food, good drink, and good times. 2009 is gone, the future is ours, and we know from experience that it will be full of odd twists and turns, heartache, and a lot of love and laughter. My body may have odd creaks and groans but no one has it as good as I do. (Well, I used to think Tiger Woods may have it better than me, but you know . . . .)

So to paraphrase REM: It’s the end of the year as we know it … and we feel fine.

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