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Goodbye, 2022

Tomorrow at midnight we will close our 2022 calendars and excitedly start filling up the days of 2023. I am very much still a printed calendar person and so was my mother. A year and a half ago, I wrote some thoughts about that here

I love browsing back through the year that is ending, reflecting on the good, bad, and I-wish-I-could-do-that-over-again moments. For example, during 2022 --

1) Steve and I found a church home where we fit, where we are filled spiritually, and where we feel we can make a contribution.

2) Our oldest granddaughter's life was spared in a scary car accident, and a few weeks later we witnessed her wedding to a man who loves her deeply. (And as we look forward to 2023, we have our first great-grandchild on the way).

3) Steve and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to towns in Mississippi that were new to us. We just wished we'd allowed more time in each place.

4) My book -- "100 Things To Do In Huntsville And North Alabama Before You Die" was published, and I've met some wonderful people during book signings and presentations.

5) We hated battling Covid during the month of June but loved our trip to Branson with grandchildren Luke and Margaret.

6) I spent a miserable night stranded in Chicago's Midway airport but cherished the previous days exploring Mesa, Arizona with granddaughter Megan.

7) We hosted both a Cousins Camp and a Skittles Camp during the summer but lamented the fact that the grands are getting older and the dynamics are changing.

8) We lost a beloved family member, Helen Greenhaw, very unexpectedly and miss her terribly.

9) We took an idyllic trip to Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and upstate New York just as the fall colors were on brilliant display.

10) I lost my balance and took a painful spill on a pile of rocks, but love the reason the rocks were there in the first place as I've watched our daughter Julie enjoy her newly-remodeled house.

You can scroll back through my 2022 blog posts to read more details about everything on this list.

While we were in Ecuador, I witnessed a New Year's Eve tradition that will forever be etched in my mind. I wrote about it in my book -- "52 Days in the Life of an Improbable Missionary" -- in a chapter titled: BURNING THE OLD MAN: THE GIFT OF A NEW START.

In the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, the intersections and busiest streets in Ecuador are lined with piles of men's clothes that have been stuffed with straw, paper, or cotton batting, and firecrackers. Masks representing political figures, popular cartoon characters, or simply faces of old men are sold to complete the almost scarecrow-type figure. The cost is anywhere from $5 to $25 depending on the elaborateness of the clothes and fireworks.

Each family either buys one of these or creates their own, and at midnight everyone goes out into the street to set fire to their Old Man (burning in effigy the year that has come to an end) and to jump over it into the New Year. It is one of the most vivid illustrations I have ever witnessed, and, of course, the firecrackers going off at unexpected times add a note of merriment and excitement.

Somehow there is a cleansing effect in watching the representation of your mistakes, regrets, and disappointments from the past year go up in smoke and in realizing that those are behind you, and a whole new calendar of hope and anticipation is beginning.

2 Corinthians 5:17 comes to mind. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Whether 2022 represents a good, bad, ugly, happy, or sad year, it is time to bid the year goodbye. 2023 looms ahead with 365 days worth of unknowns. I've shared before how much I enjoy the uplifting blog posts written by Sean Dietrich. Here is his take on the past year and the year ahead:

Happy New Year!!!

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