Winding down to welcome a new year

I like this mini stretch of days we’re in — the days after the busyness of Christmas and the calmer days leading up to a new year beginning.

It’s unwind time.

I can finally kind of sit back and take in a deep breath, really relax a little and mentally assess not only how Christmas was, but consider, too, what kind of year it’s been and what kind of year I hope 2019 will be.

At work, I tidy my desk, clear files and set out a fresh desk calendar absent for the time being of any coffee spills or very many notes about appointments, events or meetings.

At home, I take some time to appreciate everything Christmas brought, from son Adam’s solo singing “Strange Way to Save the World” at our Christmas Eve candlelight service to funny cards that came in the mail. Sister Linda’s card offered the Christmas greeting assessment that “In our family, we’ve got some fruitcakes and we’ve got some nut rolls … but in the end, after a little eggnog (or a lot), we’re all pretty sweet!”

True to tradition, I tend to look around the house and make mental notes of small plans and grander ones before I gladly surrender them all in exchange for a fuzzy blanket, an inviting couch and the prospect of a nap.

The turning-point moment of real December relief, I realize, comes when the Christmas Day dinner is cooked, and it’s all on the kitchen island, piping hot for the moment anyway, the dishes all lined up for a buffet-style attack. On your mark, get ready, get set, eat!

At that point, it is what it is, and every man and appetite for himself. My work here is done, I think to myself, ever so grateful for the reliable “dishwasher” in my midst, aka Better Half.

And I think of my mother, whose Christmas Day nemesis was making mashed potatoes from scratch. The electric mixer was not always her friend, and lumpy spuds were her enemy. Instant mashed potatoes weren’t on Ruth’s grocery list, but they’re surely on mine.

After Christmas, life starts to slow down a bit as one holiday merges into another.

Can you believe that it’s New Year’s Eve tomorrow already? And all that’s happened in your life? Some of it’s good. Some of it’s sad.

My end-of-year review is like those awards shows that devote a segment to remember entertainers who have died since the previous event.

This has been a year of great family loss in many ways, to be sure, and it didn’t take a recent visit to the cemetery to jog my memory that mom’s been gone since February. Almost a year!

Better Half and I stood at the foot of my parents’ graves after having decorated the headstone for Christmas and had one of those gotcha’ moments, appreciating that mom and dad were together again, her Christmas Day mashed potatoes battles behind her.

I hope you are relishing this day and time of year, the moments and memories, and I thank you for your support and readership.

Happy New Year!

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at