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New Year joy
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New Year’s is the almost-perfect holiday (Christmas takes the blue ribbon). It’s a combination of reflecting, celebrating or possibly just being glad of getting rid of the old year — while at the same time looking forward to the potential and possibilities of the year to come. It’s the bridge between the past and present, where what has been done is over — but the future still looks bright, if a bit hazy.

I have spent many New Year’s Days laying out goals for the year to come. Some were achieved — many not. Last year, after losing my mother, I was simply glad to move into 2014. When my sister Kathy asked what I was looking forward to during the year, I could think of nothing.

Twelve months later, as I reflect over 2014, I realize that I could neither have planned for, nor anticipated, the many bright moments the year provided. Our daughter Maggie received the Daughters of American Revolution award as she finished up middle school last spring. Our son Robert was selected to play string bass in the Middle School Honors Orchestra at Carnegie Hall this past summer. My husband Jimmy and I had the pleasure of celebrating 16 years of marriage in the city of my birth, New Orleans.

Both of our children were in the cast of the middle school play. Jimmy was selected to participate in and finished Leadership DeKalb.

Maggie transitioned beautifully this fall into high school and from ballet dancer to cheerleader. Robert played his first season of tackle football, moving from special teams only to clinching starting spots on both the offensive and defensive lines.

This past year brought many lessons and learnings. While our childcare responsibilities will still be centered at home for the next few years, the reality that college is not far away and they will leave the nest has become real, and tangible.

Looking into the year ahead, I am not going to attempt to line up resolutions or goals to achieve by month, or even by the end of the year. What I have learned in my 47 years is that, while we make plans, God changes our path by closing doors that might now be open, and opening windows that we might not have noticed before. It is our job to be ever present in the changing landscape, taking advantage of windows and not beating our heads against closed doors (easier said than done).

This coming year, I will focus on joy. By joy, I do not mean pleasurable or entertaining, but the deep joy that comes from God, from simply being alive.

It’s the joy of being with family and friends, the joy of being able to get out of bed pain-free in the morning, the joy of playing with a dog or petting a cat (if they allow you to). It’s the joy of arguing your point with co-workers, as well as working with others to reach a goal.

Reflecting on the past year, I realize that I can thank the people I have been with for the very best parts. Connecting with and working with others brings great joy.

For me, such joy comes from the realization that I am not in control, and should not attempt to be in control, but instead should appreciate those who are with me, near me, and, like me, are on this journey of life.
So, to my dear readers, I wish you a joyous new year.

To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit