Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's 9:28 p.m. on December 31. I was supposed to be at a party, with kids, but Tommy turned into such a pistol today that Phil and I changed plans pre-party. He went to the party with Max, and I put Tommy and Sylvia to bed. At some point, Phil will bring Max home, drunk on bubbly apple juice and too many cookies, and Phil might or might not return to the party. On paper, it seems like I'm getting the raw end of the deal, but I don't mind a little time to myself to settle in, maybe read some, maybe have a glass of wine, and reflect quietly.

Today I thought about what a year it's been. Like many people, the precarious economy has had me pessimistic much of this year. When 2008 began, I knew we weren't in a bull market, but I never would have guessed the year would close with Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, IndyMac, and Washington Mutual all effectively dissolved. Or that the Detroit auto makers that comprised my reality growing up -- I was about the only kid I knew who didn't have at least one parent working in the plants -- would be on the edge of collapse. I wouldn't have guessed that unemployment and foreclosures would be at record highs while retail sales would be at record lows. There's much to be pessimistic about.

There's also reason for a lot of hope. I would not want to be in Barrack Obama's shoes right now (although I wouldn't mind wearing some of Michelle's cute numbers), but I feel like more than any other presidential candidate this year, he understands the gravity of the mess he's walking into. We'll all have criticisms of what he's doing and how it's getting done, but I feel that I can trust him to make sound and reasoned decisions. Foremost, I feel he's a strong leader in a country that needs strong leadership. Secondarily, however, it gives me great hope that America elected its first African American president and that we collectively judged the incoming president on the content of his character and not the color of his skin.

Personally, I have so much to be thankful for. While I cringe every time a financial statement comes, and have finally taken Phil's advice to quit opening them for a while, we're doing well. So far Phil and I, and our family and friends, have held onto jobs. We aren't in danger of our home being foreclosed. We don't have to decide whether to feed our children or put gas in the car to get to work. I know that many people in this country are not in that situation, and am humbled by our good fortune.

And I am thankful every day for Max and Tommy and Sylvia. We started the year with two kids and some trepidation about having an unexpected third so late in life. But from the moment I met Sylvie last March, I can't imagine our family without her. Nine months later, she's an expert crawler, a lover of baths, a nonstop chatterer, and a strong-minded female who will work and work for what she wants -- like, say, a handful of the cat's food.

I hope you all have whatever New Year's Eve you're hoping for -- whether that means you'll fall asleep with a book or dance Mambo #9 with a lampshade on your head.