There’s a little Q&A thing I usually do at the end of each year, a sort of year in review thing. What did you do this year that you’ve never done before, what were your biggest achievements/failures of the year, etc.
This year, I just don’t feel like doing it.
2016 has been so awful on so many fronts. From politics (the election, Trump) and world events (Syria, Russia) to the loss of so many cultural icons from my childhood (I’m still upset about Carrie Fisher), to seeing friends and loved ones struggle with losses and heartbreak, and feeling helpless about the best way to support them.
At the same time, by any measure, my own life is pretty great. It feels gauche to even talk about it, but I have so many things to be thankful for.
My kids are healthy and doing great. Catie blows my mind with the stuff she learns at school. She comes home telling me about books she’s reading, which are the same ones I read at her age and loved. Chronicles of Narnia, everything by Roald Dahl, etc. That’s been so fun to talk about with her.
Lucy had a little bit of a rough adjustment to kindergarten (she did great at school, but she would come home exhausted every day and she was mean as a snake), but she eventually settled into her routine. She seems to be outgrowing her interest in princesses, which breaks my heart a little bit, but she’s still the same hilarious little ball of light that she’s always been. And she can read now! She reads books to me every day, and she sounds out everything. We’ll be in the car and she’ll announce the name of the street we’re on because she read it on a sign.
Chris is awesome, and takes care of me in ways I usually don’t even know I need. Do you have a partner who brings you bakery-fresh apple fritters and then does the dishes for you? You should. It’s pretty great. He gives backrubs too. A++, highly recommend.
My parents are still healthy, and since we see them at least twice a week, I feel lucky that the kids get to have a close relationship with their grandparents as they grow up.
Dave and I have evolved into a pretty solid co-parenting team, and I think we’re doing a good job at making sure rules are generally consistent between our households. The kids know that if they get in trouble at one parent’s house, the consequences (loss of screen time or whatever) will be enforced at the other parent’s house.
My siblings are both happy and doing well – and my brother got married this year, so I have a sister-in-law for the first time. She’s probably one of the most genuinely nice people I’ve ever met in my life, so I’m happy for them.
We had one of the best Christmases we’ve had in years. I was so stressed about it beforehand, but everything just fell into place, and it was wonderful and fun and so much easier than I thought it would be.
I’ve been at my job for 6 years now, and I continue to learn new things all the time, and I genuinely enjoy it. I got a raise this year, and our company’s stock price has shot through the roof, so from a personal finance angle, I’m doing way better than I could have ever expected.
So all of that is really great, but at the same time, I look at the state of the world, and I feel nothing but dread for 2017. And I suppose that’s mainly due to the political climate. I worry about the world my kids are growing up in. I have so many fears, I don’t even know how to prioritize them. Will we end up in a nuclear war with Russia or China? Will repealing climate change regulations kill us all slowly instead? Will my daughters have any autonomy over their own bodies? How do you fight back against literal Nazis taking over your country’s government?
And then the selfish angle: do I cash out my stock options and use them as a down payment on a house, or do I put them into some type of holding account so I have access to it whenever the Trump-apocalypse hits? It seems like such a minor, self-indulgent thing to worry about, especially compared to other people who are in fear for their actual lives. But as I am often reminded: our fears aren’t invalid just because other people have it worse.
So, like everyone else, I will be glad to see 2016 make its exit at midnight tonight. But I also don’t feel a lot of excitement or optimism about the coming year. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that, for all of our sakes.