“Deep in December, our hearts should remember
—"Try to Remember" from The Fantasticks
Finally, finally, it is upon us, this short span of time between the magic of Christmas and the promise of a new year. Some may see this as “down time.” After all, many of us have spent the last month or so rushing from shopping mall to discount store, juggling packages and checkbooks, welcoming family and wrapping gifts. We’ve baked cookies, attended Christmas pageants, sang carols and trimmed trees, fitting in a year’s worth of activities in a few short weeks. And still to come, we have New Year’s, with partying and fireworks, champagne and revelry, all done with a page full of resolutions breathing down our neck.
But right now, for a brief moment, we have a bit of breathing space. We’re in that transition period, between the piles of gifts and the pull of a brand new page. And in this special twilight time, before I begin making resolutions and plans for 2013, I’d like to take a moment to look back, to remember, what 2012 was to me.
Starting the year with a sad surprise
For my family, the year began with a heartache. At Christmas dinner 2011, my brother broke the news of his diagnosis. “Merry Christmas! I may have cancer. Pass the pumpkin pie.”
OK, so maybe I’m being glib in retrospect. The reveal of his cancer—later diagnosed as non-Hodgkins lymphoma—broke our hearts and heightened our prayers. We rallied as a family, making bedside visits and food runs and set lists, doing whatever we could while Mark went through countless spinal taps and PET scans and chemo. Along the way, there were tears and even more prayers and even an adventure or two. In the end—in May—God came through in a big way, and my brother was declared cancer free. So I will always remember 2012 as the year of the miracle.
It was also the year of heartbreak. In October, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Jersey shore, sweeping away many childhood memories along with planks of boardwalk and beachside attractions. I saw some of the destruction and heard some of the stories firsthand, when my cousin and I delivered an SUV full of blankets, coats and supplies to Wildwood for distribution to displaced Sandy victims. I returned to the shore just this week, and saw the Jersey spirit on full display. It may take us a while, but we can and will restore the shore—and honor the memory of the shore we lost this year.
We started the year with a bunch of campaigning (quick, how many of the 17 Republican candidates can you name? No, Chris Christie doesn’t count!) We ended the year teetering on a fiscal cliff, evidence that the race may be over, but the politics lives on.
And we dealt with national heartbreak when, on Dec. 14, a lone gunman killed 26 people—20 of them first-graders—at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. We in Gloucester County were still sorting through our children’s questions about an earlier tragedy, the murder of 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale in Clayton this October.
Individually or collectively, we cheered the women’s gymnasts and other favorites at the summer Olympics in London. We danced Gangnam style (and, true confession, paid dearly to keep the video off of Facebook). And we stared in horror—we couldn’t turn away—at the phenomenon known as Honey Boo Boo.
The shopping landscape will never be the same. As a tween (I think we were just called “kids” way back when) and a teen, I did all my shopping at the Charming Shop, later Fashion Bug in Woodbury. These were the pre-mall days, when the locals would shop at the stores of Woodbury—Woolworths and Kresges for school supplies and a soda, Polskeys for overalls and bandanas, Disk Den for records (vinyl!). And Fashion Bug would be the place for our back-to-school outfits, our Huckapoo bell bottoms and quilted jackets and straight legged jeans. But Fashion Bug, long gone in Woodbury, is closing its doors nationally at the end of 2012.
We said goodbye to Davy Jones and Jack Klugman, Whitney Houston and Nora Ephron, TomKat and Hostess cupcakes. The Mayan calendar turned out to be vastly overrated, while we’re still struggling to start a new year without Dick Clark.
Hopefully we’ll have that part figured out by Monday night, when we march nobly—or go kicking and screaming—into a whole new year. May 2013 bring revival, restoration and hope to all of you, and a miracle or two, just when you need it.