2013 highlights are in the eyes, and ears, of the beholder

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

Jan. 2, 2014

2013 highlights are in the eyes, and ears, of the beholder

My daughter and I had a tea party the other day. She’d received a tiny play set for Christmas and, as we sipped a pretend brew with our pinkies in the air, we reminisced over the past year. Rather, I reminisced while she served and answered my interrogation.

“What was your favorite thing about 2013?”

She thought, sipped, declared a fake cookie delicious, and finally answered that it was getting her ears pierced for her birthday last May. It was no Grizzlies playoffs, Overton Square renovations or school consolidation, but it was a good answer, a milestone for her.

I’m normally not one to make any end-of-the-year lists of superlatives. Odds are good that the best book I read last year wasn’t published in ’13 and that my favorite album of the year wasn’t even recorded this decade. The best restaurant of the year for me was the last one I was in that my four children were not. But this time of year begs nostalgia and impels us to look back.

And to look forward.

This coming year will see my oldest son turn 16 and take his first solo spin in the family car. That will be at the top of the end-of-the-year list for scariest moments of 2014, I’m sure. Another son will see his odometer flip over to teenager with all of the aches and pains of growing bones and inner turmoil. That should place a close second on that scary moments list.

I’m not one for resolutions either. The attempt to better ourselves should be continuous and not dependent on a new calendar page. It is impossible, though, not to get swept up in the rushing current of self-improvement.

And as long as we’re planning ahead, the bigger the better, I say. New job? Career? A life-altering move across country? Vow to learn how to paint, make sushi, play an instrument, fly an airplane? Will this be the year I run a marathon?

This business of growing and evolving is good for us as individuals and the community in which we live. Every January brings us something new, something unplanned and unforeseen because the whims of children can’t be captured on any list.

It’s smart to look ahead, but it’s also good to slow down for a bit and consider where you are right now. Stop and have a tea party with a 7-year-old. Ask what it is that has made her happy and what her hopes and dreams are for tomorrow. Ask for another cup of tea and be sure to compliment her on her earrings.

As I sat sipping tea with my youngest daughter, I was happily in the moment while looking forward to the possibilities ahead. As a parent (and with apologies to T.S. Eliot), life isn’t measured in calendar days and months, but in tea cups and meals eaten by a growing teenager, by tantrums thrown, milestones and laughter carried across the house.

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