I am, generally, an optimistic person. I look for silver linings and bright sides, and I see half-full things through rose-colored glasses. I teach my children that life happens, with or without your consent, but how you choose to react is what defines you. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but we can find the good in most situations.
Some days you get knocked down. Some days you can’t find the good, but you have to keep getting back up, keep reaching for your happiness, and keep fighting the good fight. I pull out all the clichés: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and “This, too, shall pass,” and even the lesser known, “When life hands you lemons, throw them back, as hard as you can. But first, stab the lemon a little bit so that when it hits life in its smug, stupid face, some juice gets in its eye.”
I am such a cheerleader (except for the dancing or jumping or smiling parts) that I am sure my kids regularly flip me off when I’m not looking. I remember being their age and I remember wanting to roll my eyes at every single adult who told me how grateful I should be for all that I have or to thank God that I was lucky enough to be born in this country, with these parents and not in Africa. (Because during my childhood, every child in Africa was starving and every uneaten green bean was a punch to their swollen, starving bellies — and I wonder why I have issues with food.) Yet, I strongly believe that life is what you make of it and we really can, and should, persevere.
Then, along came 2016 and, let’s be honest, it’s really sucked. It’s like a year-long wedgie that you can’t pick because everyone’s looking at you, or 300+ days of a kid with a stomach bug, or more than 50 weeks of constantly getting five flat tires in a Nor’easter.
I have been fake-smiling like a Stepford wife for more days than I care to acknowledge. I have been crying at night while watching Carpool Karaoke because it’s so damn funny and how can anyone possibly be so happy right now? I have laughed too loudly at a funeral because it was completely ridiculous that he had left us. I have wondered aloud if I was actually living in an alternate reality. Seriously 2016, W.T.F?
Let’s start with famous people who died this year. Plenty of attention was given to Prince, David Bowie and Alan Rickman, and rightfully so. But we lost some absolute comedic geniuses in Gene Wilder, Garry Marshall, Doris Roberts and Garry Shandling. And let’s not forget the sports legends like Arnold Palmer, Gordie Howe and Mohammed Ali. American icons like Nancy Reagan and John Glenn left an indelible mark on the history of our nation. Then there were the pop superstars. There is not a Gen X’er out there who didn’t either love or hate Florence Henderson as Mrs. Brady. And for the love of God, Abe Vigoda?? Really? How many other men had the moniker Fish and were called out, by name, in a Beastie Boys song? The answer? Not many!
I will not get too deep into discussion of the election cycle, but let’s all admit, no matter what side you fell on, it was insane — absolutely bat-shite nuts. The crazy was rampant and there was an abundance of vitriol for all. I cannot remember, in all of my four-plus decades, another year when there were tutorials on how to handle talking to one’s family at Thanksgiving. For real. And they were actually needed. By almost everyone.
Then there were the natural disasters, diseases (how, exactly, did we turn Zika from decades of being a mild flu-like condition to microcephaly?) and international political turmoil. I feel like we could all go a good long time without ever hearing the name Castro, again. I mean, I’m a pretty big fan of camo-chic but I feel like he could have injected a little diversity into his wardrobe.
Understandably, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the end of this wretched cycle around the sun. But it’s the holidays. I’m a true sap when it comes to all the warmth and good cheer of the holiday season. Instead of anxiously awaiting the opportunity to tell this year to F-off, I was trying to focus on my fabulous outdoor lighting, consisting of 27 strings of LED happiness that I maybe hung on the only frigid day of this entire freaking fall, my perfect Christmas tree and the joy of shopping for the perfect gift for people who are actually impossible to shop for.
And then 2016 struck back. Like the true villain of misery and putrescence, it said, “Ha ha ha, silly woman. You will not ignore me and all of my horror. I may be old, but I’m not dead yet. So here you go!” and then it threw a flaming paper bag of poop at me.
I will spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say, the past few days have consisted of multiple trips to my kids’ schools (for a variety of non-fun reasons), multiple trips to the laundromat (also for non-fun reasons), illnesses, possibly life-threatening allergic reactions, doctors’ offices and a freaking cold sore. Why do those things have to be so nasty? I feel like a leper. My own kid asked me which drinking glass was mine because she wanted to be sure she didn’t confuse it for hers and end up with my disease. Well, guess what? Joke’s on her! Mine’s full of booze so it would’ve killed the virus anyway. Ha! Who says good parenting is dead??
I wish I could give you a natural cure for cold sores. Sadly, those bastards require allopathic options. However, I do shorten the duration and severity with L-Lysine supplements and coconut oil. Even WebMD admits to the benefits of lysine. You can read about the comforting benefits of coconut oil at sunwarrior.com. No matter what, at least it tastes and smells fantastic.
Oh, and Happy New Year. Time to get going, 2016. Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out!
Editor’s Note: The blog originally included Neil Armstrong among the icons who died in 2016. Armstrong died in 2012. We regret the error.
Laurie Nigro, is the mother of two biological children and one husband. She also takes care of a menagerie of animals that leave throw-up around for her to step in in the middle of the night. Laurie’s passionate about frugal, natural living, which is a nice way of saying she’s a kombucha-brewing, incense-burning, foodie freak who tries really hard not to spend money on crap made by child laborers. You can hear her rant about her muse (aka husband) and other things that have no bearing on your life, in this space each Sunday.
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