How can I measure my place in life’s journey? Perhaps by the rhythm of each New Year’s Eve.

In the 50’s we’d stay up late, H and I — special treat that it was to watch Jack Paar at Grandma’s. (Ed. Note 1: Not so much to view the show, mind you, but rather for the bragging rights of SAYING we saw it). By the 70’s, both married, of course, first minutes each year were spent calling our parents — and Grandma. Even into the 90’s. Indeed, even then…teasing middle age, we were blessed with calls to make: our mother, Harriet, and the successor to Grandma’s rotary phone: Aunt Helen.

It would stay that way for nearly a quarter century. Emancipated children called us … our Mom went south … but our calls: to our matriarchal clan … continued.

New Year’s Eve, 2016: no pomp, but rhythmic circumstance:

On the outside I went to a meeting, played gin with my wife, and watched “Blue Bloods”.

But inside, I thought, relived, and bid adieu to twelve more months, yet another series of examples whereby God closes doors, but opens windows. So…. while we said Goodbye to Uncle “Mush” and Aunt Helen, many reasons there were (big and small) to smile and be grateful.

There were hits and misses: two shows on stage, one show directed, one stunning rejection.

And things lost and found: Still looking for Cousin Hindy’s coat, but alas, DID discover the world’s greatest cheeseburger at The Mahogany Restaurant off the lobby of the Mountaineer Casino!

And sleeping around: from beds in Chappaqua and Great Neck, New York to a bed in Deerfield, Illinois— not to mention sleeps in Pittsburgh, Columbus, Boca….and a fold-out couch in University Heights, Ohio—

It was, moreover:

The year some unknown woman approached me at Kraut’s daughter’s wedding asking if I was related to Michael— that she’d gone out with him at Ohio State years ago— and we looked alike. (I wonder if he was mortified).

The year that Letterman signed off;
That Stuart and I went to the wrong wake;
And that our Mom’s third husband passed. (Hold the applause).

More importantly however, it was the year Rabbi Mandel joined us in matrimony…

And the year two of my children asked ME for extra one-on-one time—

And the year I saw Max and Eli prance, Lucy dance, and (drum roll) that we all welcomed a wondrous Ruby Emma!

I struggled last night to stay up till the ball dropped. By eleven Michael’d checked in, as had Stacy. My brother had texted good night.

“I’m going to wake you at midnight,” my bride told me. (It was 11:45).

She did, of course, and we kissed for the New Year. And then… be it sentimental or plain denial …but I went to the kitchen and phoned my Aunt Helen.

It was a call I knew she couldn’t answer, but a call that I well had to make.

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