Today—technically, tonight—is New Year’s Eve. That was always beside the point in my boyhood home because December 31 was my father’s birthday and that celebration always took pride of place. Friends stopped by, usually on their way to or from some other celebration, and the living room was always filled with happy, loud adults. I sat on the stairs with my arm around Tango (our French poodle) and gaped at the scene below. I didn’t understand how all these people could be having such a good time. Now I know.
But father died in 1988 and so now I remember him on this day without the well-oiled crowd downstairs. New Year’s Eve still comes and goes, but for me, it’s an evening for reflection more than merriment. And as for midnight, that’s way past my bedtime. Still, to honor the tradition, I thought I’d take this moment to reflect back on the past 365 days. Here goes…
Just this month, Time Magazine made Greta Thunberg, the cherub of climate change, its Person of the Year, a most well-deserved honor if there ever was one. Would that more of us had her commitment and her fierce determination to see our planet survive!
In November, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. Venice was flooded. Up in the heavens, there was a transit of Mercury. Coincidence? I think not.
In October, two women—Jessica Meir and Christina Koch—made history by simply taking a walk…in space! It was the first time for an all-female spacewalk: no dogs, no shopping, just really expensive outfits. Meanwhile, back down here, on the next-to-last day of the month, the Washington Nationals crowned themselves World Champions. It was a thrilling World Series, one that saw the home team lose every home game. That’s against all the odds in baseball and in life, too. Think about it: maybe home isn’t where the heart is after all.
In September, Hurricane Dorian came knocking on the door of the Bahamas with winds exceeding 180mph. In the UK, Parliament was prorogued, while over in Afghanistan, there was a Presidential election. (The winner was announced only a few days ago.)
August was quiet—except for more violent protests in Hong Kong, cataclysmic wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, and the Dow plunging 500 points due to concerns over the yield curve inversion. Don’t ask; I have no idea.
In July, Boris Johnson became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom chasing Brexit-stained Theresa May from office. “El Chapo” was sentenced to life-plus-thirty years imprisonment raising again the age-old question of whether there is still life after death. Oh: and Mr. Trump asked President Zelensky of Ukraine for a favor.
June? Mr. Trump stepped over the line into North Korea. Problem solved.
In May, England won the World Cup in Cricket shocking absolutely no one. There was nautical mayhem in the Straits of Hormuz and the King of Thailand married his personal bodyguard (a commoner); sure beats finding someone on Match, Zoosk, or e-Harmony.
We’re on a roll!
In April, Emperor Hirohito abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne, the first abdication by a Japanese Emperor in over two centuries. The Cathedral of Notre Dame, pride of France and a world icon, was severely damaged by fire. Last but not least. a comedian, someone named Volodymyr Zelensky, was elected President of Ukraine. That name does sound vaguely familiar…
March was quiet until Robert Mueller sent his report to Mr. Trump and William Barr concluded there was no Russian meddling in the 2016 election. None whatsoever.
Nothing happened in February. It was too cold.
And, finally, way back in January, Venezuela had its own constitutional crisis, the Justice Department charged Chinese tech firm Huawei with multiple counts of fraud, and China landed a probe on the far side of the moon, the first human-made object to go over to the dark side.
So it was quite a year. Did I forget anything? Oh yeah, just this: for only the third time in our nation’s history, the President has been impeached.
So stay tuned. There’s an election in the road up ahead. Maybe by this time next year, objects in your rearview mirror may be closer than they appear.
I’ll be right back.
PS: Happy birthday, Pappy!
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was published in May 2017; a second volume of Musings entitled “I’ll Be Right Back” was released in June 2018. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com
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