Here & there: Starting the new year looking at the last 10

Undated stock image. | Photo by Photo Techno, Getty Images, St. George News

FEATURE — It’s 2020. As if you didn’t already know. 

The start of 2020 is one more chance to look back at the last decade. Undated stock photo. | Photo by Andrii Yalanskyi, Getty Images, St. George News

My family marked the new year like we have every one in the past decade: With a night at home with a family of dear friends making personal pizzas, sipping Martinelli’s, gorging on root beer floats and lighting sparklers. 

I know, I know. We’re animals. 

I come by my low-key New Year’s genetically. My very wise father always says why start off the New Year tired when you can just go to bed instead? 

In years past, our stay-in-the-house-and-trick-the-kids-into-a-10-p.m.-fake-New-Year’s-by-setting-all-the-clocks-ahead group, has experimented with other activities like karaoking unsingable songs, ill-advised crafts using glitter and the truly unthinkable: moms dressing up in old high school cheerleading outfits and lip-synching Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.” 

None of those had any staying power. Thank heaven.

One tradition, like the root beer floats, that has stuck around is everyone in the group – young and old – reviews their year with a list of favorites. Things like favorite trip, favorite food, favorite song, and favorite book.

And then we save them in a three-ringed binder with all the previous years’ responses. It’s like a mini time capsule for the two families. And it’s been an absolute treasure. 

This year, in honor of 2020, we felt like we needed to record things on a grander scale. How so? Not with our favorites of the year but with our top ten highlights and lessons learned in the last decade. 

Great idea, right? Until it’s time to put pen to paper. 

I’m not going to lie; I had major writer’s block. I mean, a lot happens in a decade. I wasn’t sure where to start. 

For the kids, there was almost too much to say. My ten-year-old had a good point when he quipped at least I wasn’t the one faced with choosing ten things from an entire lifetime. 

I mean how do you pick what goes on the list between learning to read and learning to poop in the potty?

(I’ll give you one guess which thing absolutely made his list.)

My husband, who is older and apparently wiser than me, went with the “don’t overthink it strategy.” He was done with his list in about five minutes – and it was pretty amazing. 

What emerged from me after a half hour of hard-thinking, moving from the crowd on the couch to a slightly less crowded chair at the kitchen bar and finally to a secluded chair in the front room surprised me a bit. 

Number one? Reading the entire Harry Potter series out loud over the course of seven months to my two younger boys. We read at the park. We read in the car. We read at the breakfast table before school. We read while they were getting their teeth cleaned at the dentist. And it was amazing. 

Number three? Skiing as a family. Not one particular day. But all the days together. The days we woke up tired boys, hauled gear, struggled with mittens in the cold, took longer than necessary hot chocolate breaks, crashed off jumps, raced down hills, fought on ski lifts, got lost in the trees and felt the euphoria of taking off our ski boots. 

Columnist Kat Dayton’s three sons at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, June 2013 | Photo by Kat Dayton, St. George News

Number five? Riding elephants at a sanctuary in Thailand. Not that doing anything with elephants is forgettable but is was seven years ago. Which is like seven hundred years in kid time. And we’ve had a lot of intervening travel. 

But it feels like it was yesterday to all of us. Even for the youngest, who was three and notoriously hated everyone and everything. Except for that day with the elephant. That day, he couldn’t contain his joy. He must have whispered, “this is the best day ever,” into my neck with his hot breath at least 30 times.

And number 10? Sometimes it takes longer to heal than you thought – and it’s OK to not be OK.

The rest of the list was much of the same – moments in time that lingered through a decade. Some ordinary. Some not. 

But all contained some simple truths: relationships are important; communal experiences bring joy; connection to nature is lasting; and some of the best lessons are born from suffering.

Happy New Year. 2020 and beyond. 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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