Most families have Christmas or Thanksgiving traditions. We save our crazy family traditions for New Year’s Day.
Each year, Mom attempts some experimental cooking using black-eyed peas, which she forces everyone gathered, including guests, to choke down. My husband, Joe, manages to squirm uncomfortably through the entire experience, while my brother, Drew, complains.
Mom tells them the swelling but barely edible peas are said to bring prosperity. Drew gives a smart-aleck response. Most years a full-out argument is avoided.
Meanwhile, Dad cracks open a bottle of champagne and offers a toast to the New Year. He poaches half of his lengthy toast from the movie “Hitch.”
“Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away,” the toast goes.
We all keep our gag reflexes in check as Dad moves on to the original portion of his lecture. He embarrasses us with well-timed words about how we can accomplish our dreams if we work together. It’s meant to be inspiring, and it almost is, except Drew rolls his eyes through the lecture.
And then comes the horrifying part: Goal-setting time. Mom gets out last year’s goal sheets, so I can read just how little I accomplished in the last 365 days.
My parents are Gardner’s version of Zig Ziglar. On almost every line of the goal-setting worksheet, they’ve hit their targets.
“Start a new business and tile the bathroom floor with pennies,” check two for Mom. “Run for office, and rebuild the engine of a vehicle from the 1950s,” check two for Dad.
And then there’s my goal sheet: There were more misses than hits in 2012. A lot more misses.
From my long-term vision statement at the top of the worksheet to the financial goals at the bottom, I looked at what I set out to do 365 days ago and wonder what on earth I spent the last year doing.
I’m not one to celebrate the passage of time, but I breathed a sigh of relief when the ball dropped on 2012, even though I didn’t accomplish a single thing I set out to do.
I simply spent 2012 trying to survive.
This year was a challenge. And not just for me but for my family as well.
I won’t bore anyone with the details, except to say, financial challenges, political defeats, too many long-term and frequent houseguests, and family members losing jobs. That was 2012.
My husband and I didn’t make enough money so we could retire. I don’t wear a size 2, even with vanity sizing. I didn’t work out three times a week. I didn’t market the novel I wrote two years ago. I didn’t read my Bible every day. I didn’t syndicate a column, write a country song, or get my own radio show. My husband and I didn’t save 25 percent of our earnings every month.
The world didn’t end in 2012 despite Mayan predictions and personal events that made it more of a whimper than a bang, and we survived.
Taking stock of all of my failures each year reminds me of just how fortunate I really am, and how fortunate so many of us in this corner of the world really are.
I had wonderful new opportunities in 2012 and met some fascinating new friends along the way. The last trip around the sun wasn’t everything I hoped it would be, but I feel so blessed to make the annual journey with amazing people. This year, when my dad started his speech about how we can accomplish anything if we just stick together, I didn’t roll my eyes.
We can also accomplish nothing if we all stick together, and sometimes, that’s a victory, too.
Freelance columnist Danedri Herbert writes in this space once a month.