The Boy is the only one of us to honor tradition this year. He's off with his pals playing "Dance Dance Revolution" and awaiting midnight as part of a New Year's sleepover.
The Girl is watching ponies with her little budgie under her hair, my Bride is reading the latest installment of the "Gentlemen Bastards" series.
I'm right here.
Tonight is supposed to be the night that we look back over the past year. And make promises for the coming one.
I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore; making pledges on my honor tends to end up with either breaking the pledge or the honor. And I have little enough honor left as it is. So that leaves looking back.
2013 wasn't an awful year for me (other than the slow painful deconstruction of my right hip, which would have happened regardless of what year it was).
I did some good.
Some good parenting, first. The Bride and I topped off our visits with Jean the Kid Counselor with the agreement that I would stop using my Drill Sergeant voice on The Boy. Jean said that although it worked - it stopped the Boy's behaviors that summoned the Drill Sergeant from the black depths of R'yleh - it had built up a pretty massive pile of anger and resentment in the Boy. So I stopped getting angry, at least on the outside where it showed, and since August the Boy has gotten much less angry and rough with his mother.
So, there's that.
The Girl? She's easy; just give her love and she turns to you like a flower seeks the sun. She loves her ponies and her soccer and her little budgie and her parents and her friend Lilah because Lilah likes what the Queen likes and it is important that you like what the Queen likes.
I've done some good marriage, too. My Bride and I have lived and loved in the way that good married couples live and love; sometime we've leaned on each other, sometimes we've pounded on each other, sometimes we've just leaned together against the winds of children and work and worry that never stop blowing.
Sometimes we fought, although usually fairly.
Sometimes were agreed to let each other go to hell each in our own way.
Mojo has done a terrific job working as a reading instructor at the kid's elementary school this year. She's also developed a sudden utter fascination with the news from North Korea (my Bride, the woman hitherto devoid of current events. Huh.)
Her sewing has grown apace. She is more accomplished, wiser, and more graceful than she was a year ago.
I've done some good work, more of the same I've been doing now for...21 years.
Damn, that's a long time.
Looking back I realize that there's a hell of a lot of awful crap littering the Portland area that I'm responsible for; fast food joints, quickie marts, cell towers, subdivisions. Think of any sort of horrible eyesore and I've been responsible for helping it get built.
But I've also worked for some good projects, too. Landslide fixes, road and embankment repairs, bridges...although if I never have to hike in two miles to another wilderness bridge project it'll be too soon.
Good citizen? Well, as always, the world outside my city and state seems to be going do hell in a handbasket, largely because of the toxic combination of a greedy elite that has learned nothing and forgotten nothing from the lessons taught the French aristocracy in 1789 and an intractably moronic Teabagging tribe of adult-sized four-year-olds on the political Right that is completely fooled by the former.
The pair of them are doing their level best to return my country to the Gilded Age, a time that was exceptionally awful for people like me. And for people like the Teabaggers, too, had they the wit to understand anything but their spastic grasp for guns and God. Which they do not, more's the pity.
So what has become a weary sort of year-end political ritual I look backward without fondness and ahead without hope. The chances for a renewed social contract that will benefit I and mine in any sort of reasonable way seem dimmer and dimmer. I do not look for a new New Deal in my lifetime.
As always, I stop at year's end to wonder what my purpose here at this blog is.
I can read the numbers, and the average supermarket flier probably gets a wider readership. I cannot pretend that I am doing any political good here, or any social good. It does seem that my essays on military history draw readers, but my own interests there are growing slender.
For those who take interest in this sort of thing, I have roughly eleven more "Battles" posts over the next two years.
Nothing at all for January and February. Glorieta Pass in March, nothing in April, two posts - the 1453 Fall of Constantinople and Crete 1941 - in May. Two more for June: Chalons in 451 and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. After that Bosworth Field in August along with a sort of extended rumination on the Stalingrad campaign. Marathon in September, The 1813 Battle of the Thames in October, and the Battle of Baquoba in November.
Much of what I write here I write to amuse or entertain myself. But I could do that on a sheet of foolscap that I would put into a box, so clearly I must want someone else to read what I write. And though I am foolishly fond of some of what I write I won't pretend that I am better at it than many other writers out there in the Aether.
This past year I've found some of those writers to enjoy and refreshed my delight in some familiar companions.
Lisa Jakub is doing a fine job over at her joint; she's simple and fresh and intelligent, a good woman learning the strength and depth of her own goodness and finding her voice as a writer.
And Paul Bibeau is always reliably wonderful; acerbic as a splash of lemon in the eye, unsparing of fools and with a gift for the fine language that I wish I could summon as deftly as he can. An unfailing dispenser of delights.
And so to the end; I have no more tonight.
I wish I had something of exceptional matter, some crafty comment about the passing of the old year to end this post with.
I don't; my own life had no great joys or sorrows, no subject of great weight for me to jot down here. I and mine passed through the year with the small passing days, the pattering succession that marked our way from darkness to darkness, us holding up our lights as best we could.
But perhaps the simple steady passing of the days and the year is matter enough.
We choose this night to mark a boundary between the years, making the sunset one and the sunrise another.
But at the same time we know that tonight is not really different from every other night, that it is just one more pass in the the endless passing of the terminator, that boundary between day and night, that every night of every year passes over us as we move with the turning earth and wakes us with the light of a new day.
And a New Year.