Dr. Bill Atwood

Celebrating the New Year, staying safe in the mountains

Monday evening the year 2018 goes into the history books and 2019 begins.

I look back at 2018 with mixed emotions.

There were the deaths and sad news stories with which we had to deal. There were also many more joyous occasions. We watched seniors graduate and leave for universities, colleges, and the military or into the workforce. We watched as couples celebrated anniversaries and weddings. We are celebrating the news that our family will grow by two nephews this coming year. By early March, James and Ethan will be joining older brother Liam in a loving and caring family with two delightful parents.

At this time of year, we pause to reflect on our lives and our futures. I find it odd that Monday, the 31st will really be no different than the other 364 days that preceded it and that each hour and minute will be counted down that particular day.

My friends and I have a small dinner club that meets monthly and on the 31st we will gather and celebrate on New York time. As we eat food and sip Martinelli’s, we will chat about the events in our lives, cruises, trips, and the young ones we know. Around the television we will be as the diamond/crystal ball will “drop” and crazy people in New York will cheer, kiss, dance, and try to avoid having their pockets picked. My friends will join me in blowing our noisemakers, cheering, hugging each other and then I will kick them out of the house so that they get home at a reasonable hour. By the time midnight rings in at Bass Lake, my dinner club folks will be sound asleep.

If you are going to go out to celebrate, please be sure to have a designated driver or call a cab. The CHP and the sheriff would love nothing better than to report zero cases of DUI on that evening.

As we look forward to 2019, we need to make it our business to share kindness and civility with one another. We don’t need to follow the poor examples of people in the news but to follow the example of those in our community who give of themselves. We need to remember that we wave at one another, hold doors for one another, donate to local charities, volunteer, and talk to one another. It is what sets rural America apart from urban America. That small-town life that we all cherish is such a valuable commodity and it is the reason many of us stay here. The trees and the lakes are beautiful but the people are the real treasure in these hills.

I detest making New Year’s Resolutions because by Jan. 4 I haven’t done too well in keeping them. What I do try to accomplish is the meeting of my goals to donate more time and treasure, to be a more patient person, and eat fewer calories each day.

We need to make sure that during 2019 we help friends and family more and to reach out to strangers to give them a helping hand. We need to sit back to enjoy art and music and play more often. Taking walks, attending plays, going on picnics, or trying to learn a new skill will enhance our lives. We have 8,760 hours of 2019 to enjoy. We need to make those hours count.

Most importantly, get to 2019 safely by not driving under the influence.

Happy New Year!