Dr. Bill Atwood

A new year

Happy New Year. If it seems like it has only been 31,622,400 seconds since the last time the ball dropped in New York, you would be correct. So much has happened and so many other things did not happen, but at this time of the year we get reflective and look back.

There were attacks on the US and on other countries by terrorists. There were deaths in car accidents and there were plane crashes. People lost jobs and homes were destroyed by fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. People got sued and lost and people filed for divorce and split families asunder.

Cancer wasn’t cured and Polio isn’t eradicated as yet. Despots rule parts of the world and there is poverty not only around the globe but around the corner from our homes.

There was an election, and half the nation was happy with the outcome, and half the nation isn’t. People woke up to having the roof leak or the hot water heater conk out. Friends and family members died.

On the other hand, so many wonderful things have happened. Millions of babies were born into loving and caring families. People found true love and married their sweethearts. Kids graduated from the high school class of 2016 ready to take on the world and feeling immortal. College students received degrees from and families celebrated. People found new homes to live in and raise families. People traveled to exotic parts of the world and others vacationed right here in our back yard at the lake or Yosemite.

Millions of dollars were raised right here in Eastern Madera County to help others who are less fortunate than many of us, and thousands of toys were under the trees around our area because we chipped in to help the Marines get those Toys for Tots. Manna House will have thousands of food items to share with the needy and many thousands of dollars to cover costs that are there to run that program. Manna House even got a grant to buy their own facility so they can keep costs down.

The Community Meals program feeds 30-40 folks each Wednesday as an outreach from local churches. That means more than 1800 free meals to folks who need it. The folks at Pawsitively Full have garnered a grant and have enlisted many sponsors to help the owners of animals who are having a tough time. Fido and kitty don’t have to go without because of the gifting of our community.

The schools are doing well and educating our youngsters so that they may become a part of the “informed, enlightened citizenry.” Those kids will one day take over for those of us and we had better serve them well so that this area can continue to thrive.

Music and the arts do well up here. We have artists that promote their craft with sales and tours. The music community provides concerts and the Golden Chain has been playing to full houses that are enjoying musicals and plays. Kids are getting exposed to the theater at the Golden Chain. Bravo.

When we hear of a disaster this community just gets going and somebody takes the lead and organizes a fundraiser. Then the rest of us get involved and buy tickets for raffles of items we don’t really need, or buy a spaghetti meal served on a paper plate because we come together to help one another.

We wave to one another in our cars and we say hello to strangers in the markets. We look out for the other guy and we lend a helping hand when there is an accident.

So 2016 was okay for most, great for others, and has a horrible memory for some. I too grieve for friends lost this year to disease and old age, but I rejoice because those dear friends were a part of my life and I am glad that our paths had crossed.

My church has lost its building and property in a lawsuit and early in January we will head over to the Masonic Lodge, where they have opened their doors to allow us temporary housing while we find a new location on which to build.

So I look back on 2016 and reflect on what happened during those 31,622,400 seconds and realize just how great we have it. My philosophy is rather simple about our lives-if you live in the United States of America you really have very little about which to complain. If you live in Eastern Madera County or Mariposa County you are doubly blessed. Frankly, I wouldn’t trade places with a single soul on this planet.

May your New Year be a happy, healthy joyous one and may we remember to be grateful for that which we have and not worry about what we don’t have.

Happy New Year.