(Feel free to add your own caption.)
A few random thoughts as we close out 2018:
The year-end retrospectives have begun from mass media, and social media is no different. My various feeds are inundated with looks-back, best-ofs, and various videos. I’m not sharing any of them. Here’s why:
-I’m afraid that my Instagram “top nine” would be a lot of food, and I don’t want a reminder of just how much I ate.
-The Facebook “year in review” video is very self-centered. It bases on “lookit me.” Some of my best moments for the year that I was a part of focused on others. I was very proud to be able to help John Records Landecker finish college and watch him get his degree. I was able to provide comfort for my family when our matriarch, our grandmother, passed this summer at 95, and I was asked to deliver the reflection on her life at the funeral. I was honored that two former students asked me to officiate their marriage this summer. Yet none of those things turned up in my Facebook-prepared video, since I didn’t crow enough about them at the time for the algorithm to take notice. No, my year in review video will run in my head, and that’s probably for the best. (Besides, does anyone watch those things, anyway?)
This year my wife and I were fortunate enough to realize a dream that we’ve had for some time: we bought a getaway place on a lake. We spend weekends there watching waterfowl (there are eagles and herons and a flock of mergansers arrived last week) and relaxing with family and friends. We’re also spending New Year’s here: there is no snow, and the rain hasn’t let up in hours, but it’s nice and quiet.
There is also no television service here, and that’s by design. It’s not that we can’t get it (we have fantastic internet and cell service), it’s that we decided not to pay for it since we don’t live here full-time. As a result, we don’t miss it, except maybe on days when there’s a big game. (Thank goodness for radio, as always.) What this means, though, is that there won’t be a TV on tonight to let us know when 2019 begins. That’s how it’s been done as long as I can remember. As a small kid, Dick Clark told me when the new year began (like here when it became 1976), and then I was sent to bed despite it being only 11pm in Chicago. Even in later years, when the big parties would be thrown, the TV told everyone when to yell, kiss, light fireworks, etc. I suspect we’ll hear fireworks at midnight, since Michigan makes it legal to blow stuff up on certain holidays, and this is one of them. But that might be all we hear, and that’s just fine by us.
Part of the tradition for many years, with respect to putting Dick Clark on the TV, was hearing Barry Manilow shortly after midnight. In 1977 he included a song on his Barry Manilow Live! LP (in my house it was an 8-track) called “It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve.” It wasn’t a big hit, only hitting #33 on the Billboard AC chart, which for Barry was a pretty low showing. But each year Dick would have Barry appear somewhere and sing it. It’s not that it’s a great record, it just seems like we should hear it. Kinda like “Auld Lang Syne,” isn’t it?
You can hear Barry by clicking here.
At the end of 2016 I did a post sort of like this, and thanked everyone who was still reading what was essentially a writing practice exercise for me in the months following my dissertation. At that time I was thrilled that the site had been visited by over 1100 people from something like seventeen different countries. In the past year, those numbers have increased dramatically. 2018 saw almost 6,700 people visit this site from
75 76 different countries outside the United States (thank you, reader from Malta who checked in after this posted). I’m humbled that so many people from so many places would spend a part of their precious time with these thoughts and stories, and I thank you for reading (and listening).
2019 marks a few cool anniversaries. A lot of things turn fifty this coming year, including me. I have some features planned that I hope you will enjoy.
Whether this was a good year for you or a not-so-good one, may 2019 be happy, healthy, prosperous, and safe.