Yes, 2016 has been a hard year. Our family suffered the unexpected death of a toddler, my sister's granddaughter, in September, and two months after that my best friend of a lifetime passed away after suffering a stroke - just weeks after his doctor told him that he was the picture of health. And somewhere between those two very sad events, America shamed itself before the world by electing an intellectually limited, misogynist bully to be its next leader.
But there were some better days as well.
My own personal highlight was the trip that I was able to make to Cuba during the last week of April. Those seven days of tours, classes, explorations, and meeting new friends provided a comprehensive education on the island nation that was far more in-depth and revealing than any history class that I ever took in college. It also presented a unique perspective into one of the lesser understood chapters of American history. Traveling to Cuba was an education and an adventure - one that I won't forget!
Domestic travels included one trip out to Oregon to see my grandchildren there. I flew out and back on the new non-stop flight between Kansas City and Portland that Alaska Airlines inaugurated this year, a flight that makes the trip much easier to endure - and considerably quicker. My little Oregonians are growing so fast, and I know that I must get out there more often in 2017.
There were also several trips to Kansas City to visit with Tim and Erin and their happy little family. The highlight of those jaunts was the one in June where I was privileged to be at the hospital on the morning their baby, Sullivan, was born. Another highlight was attending A Christmas Carol with Olive and her parents - where the real magic of Christmas was watching Olive sit wide-eyed taking in the complex beauty of a live stage presentation.
I haven't been invited to any New Year's Eve parties for tonight, nor would I be likely to attend - even if someone did desire the pleasure of my company for a holiday celebration. In fact the last New Year's Eve festivity that I remember going to was a big, raucous street party in Hanoi, Vietnam, five years ago tonight. Now that was a party!
A year is ending and another begins - and one thing is certain: The New Years are rolling around faster and faster! Enjoy your evening and be safe!