When I was a teenager I would write a last journal entry the last hour before the end of the year. I was usually babysitting, so was awake at that time — and never was out partying because I was not popular enough to party on New Year’s eve.
Here’s my personal review in pictures…
There have been heated discussions on Facebook and elsewhere about why it is not right to call 2016 the “worst year ever”. Dean and Clare both agree that it is wrong to call it that. I don’t agree with them. There have been many worse years in the world than 2016 — with that I will agree. If the Bible is to be believed, the year Noah had to build the ark because God was pissed off at his people enough to drown all but a handful. Then there were the years of the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, and the years of plagues and the two world wars, and the Holocaust. Yes indeed, there were many horrible years in the world — much worse than 2016 when a handful of celebrities died and Donald Trump won the U. S. presidential election. So, no, 2016 was not the worst year. But it was my worst year, especially if I tack on the last week few days of 2015.
It was not all bad.
Sure, 2016 had some mighty fine parts. I traveled to some fun places — Austin, Texas; Southern California; Olympia, Washington (twice); Illinois (countless times). I got to hang out with my brother and his family more than usual. I saw my brother marry a wonderful woman.
Despite all the exciting travel and good times with family, I lost two very important people in my life between December 27th, 2015 and August 26th, 2016.
One of my favorite people ever, my Aunt Ginny, died December 27, 2015. Her husband, my Uncle Jack called to tell me the news when we were on our way back from our semi-annual post-winter trip to Chincoteague. Then my mom got worse and worse and died in August, three days after I turned 60.
Carrie Fisher died on December 27th which was tragic because she was only 60. However, I was more sad to learn that Richard Adams died that same day because I had more of a relationship with his work than I did for Ms. Fisher’s.
I don’t remember how I first learned about Watership Down, maybe Jeremy told me about it? Maybe a teacher recommended it? All I know is that I read it in 1975/1976. I loved it. That may have been because I enjoyed watching the rabbits that congregated in our back yard when I was a child or maybe I got to like the rabbits because I’d read the book.
Not only did I read Watership Down, but I also read a book that was frequently referenced in Watership Down: R. M. Lockley‘s The Private Life of the Rabbit. I am sure that my friends and family grew weary of my never ending facts about rabbits. (they sometimes eat their own poop; females can absorb embryos if the environment is too hostile for giving birth)
When I was in England in 1976 Jeremy’s father offered to take me anywhere in the UK as long as it was somehow tied to a book. One of the places we visited that year was the real, actual Watership Down in Hampshire. Jeremy found a piece of rock there and created a one-of-a-kind souvenir of our visit.
Shortly after the Watership Down film was released in 1978, Jeremy and I saw it at a cinema in Leeds.
So you can see I was quite the fan of the book by Richard Adams whose death was eclipsed by the death of Carrie Fisher. (Not unlike C. S. Lewis’ death being eclipsed by the death of JFK) I am deeply grateful to Mr. Adams for giving me Watership Down which led to so many related experiences which led to so many wonderful memories.
It is Christmas Day afternoon and I am sitting alone in our house, nursing a cold. Dean and Clare are off on a hiking adventure, Andrew is in Atlanta with his girlfriend. I am not complaining — I do like my alone time, but looking at Facebook posts of families opening gifts is making me a little sad.
When I was young our Christmas eves were spent with the Greens. I think the family would take turns hosting everyone else for Christmas eve (I remember it at my Uncle Bud’s house, our house and my Uncle Dick’s houses. Maybe Aunt Ginny too, once she was married. The cousins would play together — and often put together a performance of some kind. I was the oldest, so I was the bossy director. When we were all very young, Santa would come. I don’t remember when that tradition ended — maybe when my Gullick cousins moved to Mississippi? I do remember we did have a Christmas eve celebration at my Uncle Bud’s the year after my grandfather died.
Stop me if I have already told this story — it is definitely possible since I like it so much…
Sometime after 1963 (the year my brother was born), my mom made a line drawing of her parents and siblings with the title Happiness is… Being together at Christmas. After my brother found it at the lake house in Wisconsin and posted a photo of it on Facebook, my Aunt Ginny said it looked just like a photo she had and surmised that my mom had traced it from the photo. The drawing is too large to have been traced from the photo, but it was definitely the inspiration.
See for yourself…
So this year they are finally all together again for Christmas — the first time since 1972 when Grandpa died. They have a lot of catching up to do.