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Another year older and none the wiser | Opinion | The Press and Standard

by | December 25, 2016 5:00 pm

Last Updated: December 21, 2016 at 9:54 am

Another year older and none the wiser, my friends. Well, maybe a little.
After 56 trips around the sun, life still surprises me. People still surprise me — actually, people shock me on the regular, but it beats being jaded, I guess.
Keep this on the down-low, but my husband’s birthday is also in December. So much for the power of astrology: We two Sagittarians are as unlike as organisms walking upright can possibly be. He’s calm and quiet; I’m a nervous babbler (except when angry, and then I can drive 500 miles without uttering One. Single. Syllable.) He sees the good in every person and situation; I’m convinced we’re going to die penniless, of pestilence. So, happy birthday, honey!
Here are a few things I’ve learned — or still question — after all these years.
 Everyone’s family brings the crazy. Let’s repeat: EVERYONE’S family brings the crazy. Don’t ever think another family is happier or more blessed than yours. They’re not. Don’t trust appearances. They have a mad aunt in the attic and/or live on credit cards.
 Nobody will die if you don’t respond to their text within 10 seconds.
 For the idiot who has everything, Nordstrom’s is selling a rock tucked in a saddle-stitched leather pouch for $85, and if you buy one, I will personally come to your house and beat you with it. (The rock is, I am horrified to report, sold out online. Merry Christmas!)
 You might as well love your body, because 20 years from now you’ll long for the body you have today.
 The saying “Blood is thicker than water” does not and has never made sense. Everything is thicker than water.
 It’s true: You are judged by the company you keep. So hang out with kind, smart, funny people.
 I respect your right to have tattoos, if you respect my right to feel sad when I see them covering the thighs of a 19-year-old woman.
 After two years of being a slacker, I sent Christmas cards again this year. The guilt was just too much.
 Speaking of Christmas, if my gifts and checks don’t get acknowledged this year, there will be a major Santa strike in 2017. A thank-you note would be nice, but I’d settle for a text or shout-out on Facebook. (Because I’m way too uncool for Snapchat and Twitter.)
 It’s okay to have problems. It’s okay to struggle with doing the right thing. It’s okay to fail. Every day is a new beginning.
 For all the kind people who ask, “When will you adopt another dog?” the answer is, “When I stop grieving the last one.”
 When you’re the designated driver, try this non-alcoholic option: Pour diet tonic water over ice, followed by a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice. The quinine makes it bitter, but it’s also tangy and refreshing. How did it take me 56 years to know this?
 Remember, not everyone in your circle is in your corner.
 Why do so many parents carry their babies like breathing footballs? Upside down, dangling, backwards — seems like the kid would get vertigo.
 For those who may, by circumstance or choice, be alone on Christmas, Day, please enjoy yourself — relax, read, do yoga, binge-watch “Stranger Things” or “Downton Abbey,” take a hike, take a bath, eat exactly what you want. Rinse and repeat. I promise you will emerge renewed and refreshed on Dec. 26.
 Here’s a secret: Pork belly and bacon are the same thing. Pork belly is unbrined and unsmoked, but yep, you’re eating bacon’s lazy step-sibling.

(Julie R. Smith, who plans a quiet Christmas eating fruitcake, can be reached at

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