Good Bye 2016 …

It is New Year’s Eve and like the previous years, I am sitting in the living room with my laptop, the Christmas tree in view, the sound of fireworks in my ears (although it is only around 22.30, but that’s the Netherlands for you), thinking and typing away.

2016. What a year. Loads of controversy, debates, violence, without doubt.

And if you believe the newspapers, 2016 was dominated by all these negative things. My newspaper had a special section today that – pages after pages – looked at all the people that have died in 2016. The VIPs of course, not the countless victims of war in Syria and likewise. I leafed through it and thought, guys, can you stop doing this? Are we really going to define this year by the prominent deaths that happened? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do understand that the deaths of these people feel important for some. But do we have to define a year by them? In 2015 one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett, died. I was sad, very sad, but I would not have dreamed of calling 2015 “the year when Pratchett died”. – Who knows what great minds have been born in 2016, we just don’t know it yet, because they are still busy drinking milk and having naps.

So, can we not define this year by death please?

As for the political things that went wrong this year, yes, there are quite a few. As for terror, yes, we cannot deny it is here, in our midst.

But.

But does it really help to make a list of only the bad things? Does it make us feel better? Does it help the victims? Does it un-do the political change that happened? It cannot, of course. So what do we hope to achieve by colouring a whole year black?

Because also good things happened. Try it for yourself: type “good things that happened in 2016” in Google, and see the lists coming up. Some are long, some are shorter, a lot of them are rather silly, others are heartwarming. The important thing is: there are loads of them. My personal favourite is this one:

The 99 best things that happened in 2016, from Ebola’s eradication in West Africa to saving the manatees

It gives you the feeling that not all was lost in 2016. And I think we really need to hold on to that idea. Yes, terrible things happened in 2016. Some of the political decisions seem like a big step backwards, a step in the wrong direction. But some right steps have been taken too. People died, but people also were saved. People were born, people grew a little older, who might change things in a positive way in the future. We should not close our eyes to the bad things, but we should do our best not to let them define us. Because then they have won.

So let us take in that year, with all the good and bad, try to balance it in our mind. Let us think about what we can learn from it. Let us think what good things we can take from it. And then, let us turn around, face 2017. Let us make it a good one. I still believe we can.

Happy New Year.

🙂

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Random New Year Thoughts

Could it possibly be that the special New Year’s Feeling everyone is talking about is just a huge wave of tiredness?

When I woke up yesterday morning (it being January 1st) my first thoughts were something along the lines of “ooooohhhh I am tired”. You see, I did not simply wake up, I was woken up by Younger Son. And although it was a really merciful hour (8.30 – everyone with young kids will agree that this great!), still all I could think was “oh nooooo”.

We did not even have a party on New Year’s Eve, no crazy stuff. Husband and I spent a quiet evening reading, writing, tinkering, listening to music. But of course we stayed up until midnight, event though at 21.30 I thought how nice it would be just to fall asleep on the sofa and miss the whole stuff. Around 23.30 I felt rather awake again though, so we fetched the bubbly drink, followed the countdown on Husband’s phone (you would not believe it, but the radio station we were listening to switched from music to commercials for the last two minutes of 2013, followed by the news – at least they had the decency to wish everyone a Happy New Year before they started to read the news) – then we had a kiss and a drink 🙂

Afterwards we ventured upstairs, having promised the boys to wake them for the fireworks. This was the first time Younger Son had requested this and I had my doubts he would wake up happily at this hour. On the stairs we were greeted by Older Son in his pyjamas, with ruffled hair, blinking sleepily without his glasses, looking unbelievably cute. We asked him how he had managed to wake up at exactly the right moment. He just smiled. Younger Son was remarkably easy to wake, and soon all four of us were settled on the the sofa in Older Son’s room, looking out of the big window. Husband and I each had a cuddly son wrapped in his blanket sitting on our laps, and so we watched as outside a beautiful show on the sky unfolded.

I have to say I am sort of ambivalent about the whole concept of fireworks. On the one hand I see all the news articles about children (and adults) getting hurt when shooting stuff into the sky, plus it creates an immense amount of dirt, plus I won’t event think about the billions of Euros that are just sent puff into nothingness – but it does look pretty. (I only like the colourful ones… I really hate the loud crackers that only go boom and scare everyone to bits.) So the idea that has been discussed here, that instead of private fireworks there should only be ‘official’ fireworks organised by the cities, that one does not sounds too bad for me. But the league of fireworks lovers shout out in despair, since they love to do their own stuff. Oh well, I guess there won’t be any change here soon. I just wish those kids would be more careful (my boys luckily are very nervous around fireworks until now… they won’t go near it).

When the lights in the sky got less and less, we managed to get two happy boys back to their beds – Younger Son went out like a light, the older one took a while to settle back to sleep. Husband and I stayed awake for a little longer, lingering in the living room, having a late night snack. So it got really late in the end – thus my feeling of “ohhhhh I am tired” next morning.

After a cup of tea my thoughts managed to go a bit further. I still felt tired like anything, and the whole concept of having a whole new year in front of me somehow seemed a lot. But in the end it was just another day, as usual. On Monday school will start again for the boys, and it won’t be “new” at all – no new school year, just a new term, same teachers, same friends, same routine.

So what did I get out of the whole ado around the concept of “New Year”?

I got 45 minutes of sitting there with my family in the dark, watching the sky turn into our own private light show, watching the boys go “ooohhh” and “aahh”, seeing them pointing out especially nice ones to each other. Feeling them cuddle against me, listening to them comparing the colours and effects. It was for sure the cosiest New Year’s Eve I have ever had.

That’s a lot to be happy about, isn’t it?