Friday, January 4, 2013

My Wish For An Ordinary Year

by Amy Ruhlin                   

It's New Year's Eve and my husband and I are at home. We are dressed for the evening in our favorite sweats, soft slippers and fuzzy socks. We sit in front of the fireplace as our dinner simmers on the stove. The food smells good and the fire is warm. We open a bottle of red wine and it tastes especially smooth. "It was on sale," my husband says, and we grin as we take our first sips, enjoying the pleasure of a good wine at a cheap price.

Our son walks into the room and shows us that he is dressed for the evening, too."Do I look OK?" he asks. He is wearing dress pants, a collared shirt and a striped bow tie. He is 17 and tall and handsome.

"You look terrific," we say. I can see the excitement in his face as he anticipates his evening: dinner out with a large group of friends and a bonfire at midnight.

Our daughter is away on a trip. She bought a new black dress for the occasion and tried it on for me before she left. She looked young and beautiful and for a moment, I wished I was 20 again and off to New York in a black dress to celebrate the New Year. The morning she left, I could feel her excitement.

When our son leaves the house, my husband and I turn on the television to watch a football game, but the power goes out and our home becomes dark and quiet. We light candles and talk about the past year and our memories seem especially sweet as we share them in a room illuminated from the light of three small flames.

From our window, we can see that the entire street is dark, so we step outside to take a look. There is no electricity for as far as we can see and the light from the moon shows off the bare limbs of the trees in winter. It is cold and the night looks especially beautiful .

Later, when the power is back on, my husband watches the football game while I read in another room. We both have our cell phones nearby in hopes of texts from our children. We don't hear from them, so my husband sends me texts, pictures of himself making silly faces and it makes me laugh. He has been making me laugh for 28 years, but tonight I think he is especially funny and tonight I laugh especially hard.

Sometimes, I miss the excitement of my youth, but tonight I do not. Tonight, I realize that I have exchanged it for something even better: I have exchanged it for the ability to see that our extraordinary times often happen in our most ordinary moments.

And I realize that as this year begins, I am no longer concerned that I have no list of resolutions. Instead, I am content knowing that my only wish is to have a most ordinary year.


  1. I must also be getting older, because your New Year's Eve sounds heavenly!

    What a wonderful place you are in your life and mindset to enter the new year.

  2. Beautifully said. It's the most ordinary moments that I treasure the most.

  3. Really enjoying this blog. My wife and I know the in-hopes-of-texts feeling, waiting to hear from our daughter who lives 2+ hours away. BTW, your New Year's Eve sounds great.

  4. This sounds just lovely! If that indicates my age, then so be it. It's going to be a great 2013! Nice to meet you!

  5. I originally saw this on Huff/Post50... Wonderfully written. I could visualize the scene, perhaps because the favorite parts of my life are also the most ordinary. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Lovely! Do you know this poem by UK writer Wendy Cope? It sums it up for me.
    Being Boring

    'May you live in interesting times.' Chinese curse

    If you ask me 'What's new?', I have nothing to say
    Except that the garden is growing.
    I had a slight cold but it's better today.
    I'm content with the way things are going.
    Yes, he is the same as he usually is,
    Still eating and sleeping and snoring.
    I get on with my work. He gets on with his.
    I know this is all very boring.

    There was drama enough in my turbulent past:
    Tears and passion - I've used up a tankful.
    No news is good news, and long may it last,
    If nothing much happens, I'm thankful.
    A happier cabbage you never did see,
    My vegetable spirits are soaring.
    If you're after excitement, steer well clear of me.
    I want to go on being boring.

    I don't go to parties. Well, what are they for,
    If you don't need to find a new lover?
    You drink and you listen and drink a bit more
    And you take the next day to recover.
    Someone to stay home with was all my desire
    And, now that I've found a safe mooring,
    I've just one ambition in life: I aspire
    To go on and on being boring.

    1. Did not know that it, thanks!

  7. Ordinary is good. I used to spend NYE at Times Square in my 20s. Now, 20 years later, the safety of ordinary is pretty much where it's at.