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Cimino: Appreciating life as we enter a new year

I've been thinking about … 2016.

As we come to the end of another year, having shared another Christmas with family and friends, having decorated the house with maybe a little less enthusiasm and detail than last year and the year before, and, yes, embracing the ubiquitous idea of the gift card rather than tracking down the perfect gifts for each family member, I'm content. I have a good husband and family, great friends, good health, a nice home and a job I would work at for nothing if I could afford to. (Don't tell Joe). I suppose it is natural at this time of my life to contemplate the past, live the present to its fullest and welcome whatever the future has in store for us. Life, bring it on.

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We have two invitations for "open houses" to usher in the new year, one on New Year's Eve and one New Year's Day. Both gatherings are close to home, so we have accepted both with enthusiasm. Someone else will clean the house and prepare wonderful food and see to it that all the guests have a good time. We will enjoy being the guests. Of course we will observe the Italian custom of bringing a "little something" to each party.

The memories of disastrous New Year's celebrations of the past have faded sufficiently for us to try again. But who will ever completely forget the evening we got snowed in with a group of people we barely knew and who were extremely unhappy about the whole situation. It took us 10 years before we tried again. And then we tried, "Just going out for dinner." Well, that was fun. Long waits, even with a reservation, slow service and cold food. So, for the past few years it has been just the two of us with a bottle of champagne. I do have to admit that on a few of those occasions we didn't make it much past 10:30 before one or both of us was snoring. I doubt even with the "open house" we will see midnight this year.

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I remember when I was very young, thinking, "Wow! I'll be 57 years old at the turn of the millennium, 2000." It seemed so old to me at the time, and now I'm looking at 16 years past that. (I know you are doing the math.)

So what are my plans for 2017? Well here it is — I plan to keep on doing as much as I can, for as many people as I can, for as long as I can. I will put a smile on my face every morning whether I feel like it or not and keep it there. I will say "good morning," "please" and "thank you" as often as I can. I will open a door for someone and allow someone to open a door for me. I will read as many books as I can get my hands on. I will cherish my friends and try to make a few new ones. I will go to my grandchildren's concerts and plays. I will pass on to them the stories of my family coming down from Canada in the first decade of the 1900s to a little town in Vermont called Winooski and how musically talented they were.

Here we are at the end of another year. Thank you to you who read my ramblings every couple of weeks, and a very happy new year to you all.

Audrey Cimino is executive director of The Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.

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