Looking at 2016 through my backup camera

I love to receive Christmas cards and admire people who include an annual newsletter. I used to do that, but the cards I bought two years ago waited in vain again this year, hoping a miracle would send them dashing through the snow to friends and family. “Maybe next year,” I admonished, and they nestled back into their neat little boxes for a long winter’s nap.

But as 2016 came to a close, I reflected on what I would have written if I had sent a newsletter. So here’s a view of 2016 through my backup camera.

Photo courtesy Flickr: Jeff Wilcox, edits by author

I didn’t know the joy of having a backup camera until last year. Patrick urged me to buy a newer car and it is black, sleek, and lives up to its vanity plate: Shallow.  I clean the elusive camera daily, removing the grime so I can portray a clear vision of what lies behind me.

I got laid off in February and there were two essentials that motivated me to update my resume: food and health insurance. I landed another job saving me the effort of standing in line at the unemployment office. It was tough saying goodbye to a group of phenomenal coworkers and adapting to a new job against my will, but I am happy to be on the adjusted side of this event. I have some terrific new colleagues who take the sting out of trudging to work each day, swimming at the bottom of the earned time pool.

Patrick’s contract work diminished to a part-time gig, and he endured a series of interviews and rejections. I was about to shave his beard in his sleep and sneak Grecian formula into his shampoo bottle, when he secured a promising new job at the end of November. This has been a mixed bag since I’m thankful for the meaningful work and income, but devastated at the loss of a nearly full-time househusband. This reinforced the concept of ‘be careful what you pray for.’

Patrick and I celebrated our 25th anniversary but due to financial uncertainty (see above), we didn’t go on a fancy trip. We don’t need external fluff to appreciate the longevity of our relationship. And I’m not bitter that we didn’t return to Hawaii the place of our honeymoon, something we always said we would do when we reached this milestone. No siree.

Anyway, we did go to a movie. I said it was Creed but Patrick googled it and apparently we saw that in 2015. He tells me we saw Star Trek Beyond and I only took one catnap so you know I enjoyed it. I don’t remember details of the plot but I know the young cast was outstanding, the bad guys were ugly, and there were heroics, shootings, and a few laughs.

I participated in the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop and it was amazing to laugh and learn with like-minded humor writers from all over the country and world. I made new friends who have enriched my life and helped me grow.

Lee Gaitan and I having ‘coffee’ in Erma’s kitchen

We said goodbye to my cousin Birdena who surrendered to the ravages of cancer. She was kind and funny and never complained. We shared laughter amidst the stress with her and her lovely daughter, Diana, when they stayed near us for Birdena’s treatments. Rest in peace, dear cousin. We think you died too young and for no reason.

I attended my 45th class reunion and the fact that we needed name tags to identify each other was not enough evidence for me to admit we had aged.

Our grandsons turned 5 and 3 and we are thrilled to live near them and their parents. They give us ego boosts with comments like: “Grandma, you are adorable.” And “Grandda, I love your gold tooth.”

I endured the nastiest presidential election in history but I don’t get too agitated about politics because I’ve learned a couple of lessons through the years: 1) politicians don’t keep their promises; 2) problems are not generally solved through politics. So whichever side you were on, let’s start solving problems.

I’m grateful we got a stack of Christmas cards from friends and family who haven’t crossed us off their list. Yet. And I’m feeling optimistic that next year I’ll reciprocate. I might even tuck in a newsletter. But don’t count on it.

What would you include in your 2016 annual newsletter? Do you think you would send me a Christmas card even if you didn’t get one from me for two years? Will you have a happy and prosperous year in 2017? I hope so!


©2016, Stevens. All rights reserved.

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25 thoughts on “Looking at 2016 through my backup camera

  1. You clever lady, writing about life through the back-up camera…yours is really hi-tech! Mine is now 7 yrs old. If I looked at life through my back-up camera, I would run into things and be writing from jail!

    • Yes, I thought everyone looks back through the rear view mirror, but really, who uses them now that we have back up cameras? This is high tech for me considering my last car was the first time I had power locks!

  2. 2016 seemed like a crappy year as it was happening, but when I took the time to reflect back on it at the end of December, I realized it had actually been a very good year for me. 2017 on the other hand…

    • Counting blessings is a good way to increase happiness, Austin. It’s like putting money in the bank for those lean times when you need an emergency fund. Don’t give up on 2017 yet. It has just begun!

  3. I think this past year will be my last year sending Christmas cards. I just don’t enjoy it. 2016 was an extraordinary year for me and I need to reflect on it more often. Have a wonderful 2017!

  4. Oh Molly, You speak such truth and liberate us all. Mum, George and I all giggled our way through your review of 2016, except for the sad parts. We are glad you both were able to rejoin the ranks of the employed but sad that you needed to do so. You two are going to be unstoppable in retirement. Happy New Year. hugs to you both, Bonnie, Barbara, and George

    • I am so happy to know that you and George and Barbara enjoyed my look through my backup camera. I love your comment about our prospects for retirement as I believe that is true! So enjoyed your family newsletter and glad I could share mine even though it didn’t arrive in your literal mailbox. XOXOXO

    • Thank you so much Stephanie. I wondered if this post would have broad appeal and you have validated that it did and I am grateful for your readership and comment. It has taken me time to trust what I see in my backup camera but I can say now that I do feel confident in what I see behind me. Happy New Year!

  5. A year in review delivered with your usual wit and humor! I’m with you on the Christmas card thing–this year I didn’t even pretend to try. And guess what: a huge source of time-suck and irritation simply went away! Did wonders for my holiday spirit.

    • I wonder if I can evolve to the level you have by doing away with the guilt, Roxanne? Well done! You’ve given me inspiration for next year. Maybe a ceremonial burning of all the boxes of Christmas cards in my storage bin?

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