Riding the Year-End Wave


I love this picture, but not because I’m a surfer; I like the wave as a metaphor for the rush of excitement that comes as the New Year approaches. It’s about riding the wave of good food, just released movies, new books, special events, NFL playoffs, coming attractions, and all the good things that happen this time of year. It’s about friends and family and it’s a roller coaster ride as we try to fit in all the opportunities and obligations.

In October I begin to anticipate the year-end movies that squeeze in under the wire for Oscar consideration. It’s an exciting challenge, when they finally arrive, to see all the good ones and find the surprises. In the last month I’ve managed to see Anna Karenina, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Hyde Park on Hudson and A Late Quartet. Of all of them A Late Quartet and Argo stand out more than the BIG pictures. But, I still haven’t seen Promised Land, Zero Dark Thirty, Rust and Bone, and Amour so there’s a lot to look forward to. I’m not very interested in the over-hyped Les Miserables or Django Unchained, but I could be persuaded when things slow down in January. For me, musicals are magic on the stage but usually flawed when they hit the big screen, and I’ve never understood the attraction of Tarantino’s violence besotted movies. But, Tarantino aside, I do love the adrenaline rush of the year-end films.

Then there are books – usually Christmas presents – but also impulse purchases that come with shopping for other people’s presents. I have a huge pile of them beside my chair in the living room. My daughter gave me a book called Those Who Have Borne The Battle, by James Wright, about how America has let down its veterans after every war from WWI to the present. I didn’t know about the book but after working with vets in Vietnam for the last three years it’s a problem I’ve seen and heard evidence of first hand. It was a thoughtful gift and one that I will read with interest. In the same pile is the catalog from the George Bellows exhibit which Marilynn and I saw in New York last week. Also on the pile is Best American Short Stories of 2012 edited by Tom Perrotta, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham, Red Sorghum, a novel by Nobel Laureate Mo Yan, and others. Too many books, too little time.

And then there is the food problem… Parties. Family gatherings. Harry and David. Salted caramels. Egg Nog. Chips and dip. Champagne… and leftovers. 5lbs minimum even if you keep working out. It can’t be helped and it’s great while it’s going on, so give in now and recover in January.

I’m not a big football fan, but this time of year as the winners are separated from the losers I begin to get interested – especially if the Seahawks are in the race. And, they are… Yesterday I gave up reading and movies and watched a nail biter between the Seahawks and Rams with some good friends. The game was great (the Seahawks won a squeaker) but sharing the day with friends was the better part. I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the important things.

It’s impossible to do everything, but one of the most refreshing things that happens as the wave begins to curl and the year comes to an end is connecting to old friends. I was never a big Christmas card sender, but email and e-cards let me send a simple message to friends that I don’t see much from year to year. Our card is a simple one page PDF with a few pictures of us in some of the locales that we have visited in the past year. I can’t abide the “Christmas newsletter” but I do like to see pictures of old and new friends doing what they like to do. Keep it simple but keep in touch. My favorite new song of 2012 is James McMurtry’s Walk Between the Raindrops. Here is the chorus:

Stay alive inside,
don’t be a stranger
Keep a line open to
the folks back home
Don’t run and hide
when everything changes
Walk between the raindrops
dry as a bone

Go Seahawks! Happy New Year everyone!

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