2017 Begins

January is the worst month.

It’s also the month for consumption.

The coldness, initially a welcome relief from allergies, has now gone on too long. And the freshly fallen December snows have crushed underfoot. Sure, it might snow in January, but instead of a gentle blanket on everything, it will be a whitewashed covering of grimy ice crusts and rock-hard drifts. In December, at least, I spend the first 20-odd days of the month looking forward to the plant shutdown, when my good days – and I count as a good day any day that I don’t have to get in a car – will hopefully outpace the bad. But in January…no. I mean, I don’t have to go to work today, obviously, but now I’m at the point during my break where I just keep thinking about the break ending. Maybe I should go to bed earlier, I think, so that I get back on schedule. Maybe I should put away the project that I know I won’t complete.

Actually, the year felt like it started last night. The five of us went to the Jayne’s house; they have a New Year’s Eve party annually. On account of sickness, we didn’t go last year, but this is our fifth time attended. We have yet to stay until midnight. Last night, with a record-high attendance, and half the attendees inexplicably standing around in the kitchen, and with some poor man’s Dick Clark blaring from the TV regurgitating clichés and showing off the worst that pop music has to offer, we only stayed until 9:45. We’re not really partiers.

Anyway, on the way there, I asked Jennifer, “So, do you have any resolutions, or goals, for 2017?” I had to say it in an overly-dorky manner, since we don’t really makes resolutions – they’re as artificial as Hallmark cards for Hallmark holidays – and I had to add in the synonym “goals,” since Jehovah’s Witnesses think new year’s resolutions are “worldly,” and thus “bad,” yet they encourage goals, which are the same thing. We’re not Witnesses, obviously, otherwise we wouldn’t be attending a New Year’s Eve party – especially not one hosted by a Minnesota Atheists board member – but I made the resolution-goal joke because it reinforced the silliness of using December 31st as a day to make goals simply because it’s the last day on the calendar.

Jennifer reminded me that her primary resolution is to completely organize and back-up our photos and videos. This was our goal for 2016 as well, but it didn’t pan out. So she’s set it up as a goal for 2017. Then I mentioned the goal of installing a fence for our yard. Then she mentioned Disney World. Then I mentioned graduating from college, and then she noted that that’s not so much a goal as just something that’s going to happen. “Like have a goal of turning 42?” I said. She laughed. “Yeah, like that. It’s just going to happen no matter what we do.”

Well, graduating from college isn’t quite as inevitable as surviving until my next birthday, but I get what she’s saying.

I didn’t say this to Jennifer, but another inevitability has to deal with my Grandfather’s death. From my sister Diane, I’ve learned that he’s only marginally healthy right now. In September, she told me he only had a few days to live, and I said it would be sad if he died on our grandmother’s birthday, which is on September 19th. Despite being Jehovah’s Witnesses – Witnesses don’t celebrate their birthdays – I agree, it would be sad to lose your husband on your birthday. But he had a couple operations, and they sent him home from the hospital in late September to die in peace with his family. Diane had plans to visit Florida soon after, and she worried he would die before she got down there. But, even with a flight delay due to a hurricane, she still got down there and visited with him for, presumably, the last time. He was still alive on the fifteenth of December, which marks my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Witnesses do celebrate their anniversaries, though I don’t know if my grandparents were well enough to do anything special for that milestone. Nobody would tell me, anyway. Regardless, he’s still alive. Now I’m wondering if he’ll make it to his ninetieth birthday, which is in April. More than that, I wonder if I’ll go to his funeral. Or “memorial service.” Whatever it is Witnesses call funerals.


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