Before the year ended, I decided to visit my friend Mattie to get some of her words of wisdom along with her black-eyed peas, collard greens and hot apple cider. She was in her kitchen cooking up her traditional New Year’s meal.
“Whew, this year flew by,” I said settling down at her kitchen table, my stomach starting to growl in response to the delicious smells coming from the pots on her stove.
“It sure has, faster than a hummingbird in a garden of flowers. I’m grateful that I made it this far,” she responded. At eighty, Mattie is in tip-top shape. She watches what she eats, exercises, and does all the right things. I told her so. “I hope I look and feel as good as you do when I get your age.”
“Other than a little arthritis and other aches and pains that come with age, I feel fine. Looking forward to a new year.”
“The end of the year always makes me sad when I think of all the people who have died and the things I didn’t get done,” I said, “problems that weren’t resolved, relationships broken up. December was hectic. Rush, rush, rush was the order of the day. I was so busy shopping for the right gifts, keeping up with all that was expected of me. Now that the celebrations are over, I feel a sense of loss, a let down. Mostly though, I think about growing older.”
“Honey, I understand how you feel,” she said. “The holidays are emotionally draining for some. For those who have families, it can be both joyous and frustrating at the same time because of all the expectations. For those who are alone or who have lost loved ones, it can be a depressing time.”
She handed me a plate and told me to help myself to the pots of food. Wiping her hands on her apron, she filled her plate and sat down beside me. After taking a bite of food she said, “I look forward to each new year. Each year I say to myself, ‘I’m gonna make this the best year of my life.’”
“And does it get better?” I asked.
“There are up’s and down’s. But I don’t let the down’s knock me out,” she said with a laugh. “I remind myself of the “Serenity Prayer” ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ I try not to repeat the same mistakes. I know that my life is fuller when I step out on faith, reach out to others, take care of my health, and look forward each day to learning something new.”
“Amen,” I said, and reached for another biscuit. After the rain, the sun was coming. I could see this was a new day and I was looking forward to the challenge.