It’s Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve, Saint Sylvester, plain old December 31st. Call it as you may, it’s the last day of the year.
But doesn’t it feel like January 1st 2016 was only a few weeks ago? A couple of months at the most. But no, 365 days have gone by since that cold winter’s day – 366 in fact, because this year was a leap year. And hasn’t it jumped past us very fast indeed? In great leaps and bounds. Zooming from one Monday morning to the next, leaving weeks then months trailing behind us at a rate of knots.
It’s been something of a tough year too. It announced its colour at the very beginning, the first day actually, when our little two-year-old cousin smashed his head on the stairs as we watched and had to be taken to hospital to be stitched up in the emergency ward. What a way to welcome in the New Year.
Then the darkness just kept creeping in. Illness. Death. Famous names ringing out first of course, but those nearer to home touching a far deeper and darker spot. I attended three funerals in 2016, each one heart-breaking and harrowing, leaving an empty, cold space in my head and my heart.
And what about the woes of the world? Too numerous to mention, too awful to ponder. War, fear, hate, violence and poverty filling our screens and our lives on the other side of the planet or outside our own front door. I have tried to keep them all at bay. Often I have managed by simply ignoring the facts. Call me what you like. I know I’m an ostrich but what can I do to help? Not much. That’s my excuse anyway.
But where there is darkness shall there be light, as someone famous undoubtedly once said. I think it might have been Princess Leia, and isn’t that another terrible piece of 2016 news. Her, then her mum the next day? Awful.
Yet there certainly have been moments of pure light this year. News we have heard less about, but which was just as important. New chemotherapy breakthroughs. Child mortality decreasing but tiger and panda numbers increasing. The Olympics. The Lightning Bolt. Brownlee Bros. Andy Murray planting himself as the number one seed on the tennis court. We have had great new films in the cinemas, wonderful new books on the shelves and music on the waves.
And in my own family there has also been bright light to behold: two new babies, making me a very proud, three-time Great Auntie, aka Grauntie. Big important birthdays and parties filling us with delight, showering us with love, and allowing us to realise just how special we are. Exams passed. Challenges achieved. Hurdles crossed. Moments spent all together. Special split seconds throughout the year turning into minutes and hours of joy that make up all that is good in a lifetime. There were many of those, even at the most unexpected times, shining a way forward through the dark.
And since it’s Hogmanay today I have a quick last-minute declaration to make. My own new little baby, this silly wee blog, has procured many a moment of happiness too. For me at least. It has kept me busy, thinking, reading, writing and creating something that brings a tiny little spark of glee and satisfaction into my day-to-day life.
So farewell, 2016. I almost said ‘Good riddance!’ but you haven’t been all bad.
Step right in, 2017. We’ve been waiting for you. Let’s hope you are a bit more lenient than your predecessor.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and safe New Year for youse all. Cheers!