My mother was always amazed that I got paid to tell people what I think about things every week. After all, growing up I was always so good about telling her and others what I thought about things for free!
Truth be told, I’ve always been a little amazed too. It’s been a wonderful couple of decades now writing columns for Scripps Howard News Service each week. But this news service is ceasing operations after almost 100 years, and that means after this week, my column — at least in this form — ceases too.
I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I once described it to a friend as a little like having a term paper due, each week, for a college class you loved.
Deadlines are a way to force creativity. And writing a weekly column, did, I think, cause me to pay a little more attention to what was going on around me. I would often take part in a conversation, or have a “take” on a movie I was watching with my kids, or the cover story of a magazine and think, “that’s a column!”
By my count, I’ve written more than 1,000. And I can see how my focus and passion grew and changed over the years.
It followed the arc to a large extent of what was going on in my life, from being passionate about politics, to children and family, marriage and relationships, suddenly-single parenthood, then a new marriage and bigger family.
Along the way I wrote two books based on my columns, “It Takes a Parent” (2005) and “From the Hart” (2012) .
But the best part? Hearing from so many wonderful and supportive readers over the years who encouraged me so much. Sure, there were angry ones who let me hear from them, too — nothing wrong with that! It kept me on my toes.
I shared some pretty basic and — I think — common-sense notions: Government is too big and intrusive, marriage matters, men and women really are wonderfully different, having children changes everything in a way that’s scary and wonderful, the importance of living in the moment.
It’s that last one I want to touch on more in this last column. Four years ago at Christmas, I wrote about hosting an annual girls’ Christmas party for a group of high school friends — 17 of us, dear women who had been through so much together over the years, cared for each other and shared laughter that just doesn’t stop.
This year, all turned — gulp — 50. That meant some celebrations! The ones struggling with cancer four years ago when I first wrote about this have grown older with the rest of us. What a gift. But the struggle continues.
I was scheduled to host the party again this past weekend, in the new home I came to this year with my new husband. But we changed the venue to make it easier for one of our number in particular, whose cancer seems stronger than her at the moment, to be able to join us.
Still as I do every year at that gathering, I wondered about what the year ahead will bring — in part, I suppose, because this past year brought a lot into my own life. It started with a scary, but successful, brain surgery for an un-ruptured cerebral aneurysm, then a big birthday, a huge household move, sending my first off to college, and now excitement of Christmas with a big and blended family of eight kids, spouses and grandchildren. Maybe it’s fitting that a year like that would bring a change in my professional life, too.
And so as I enjoyed that annual gathering of friends, grieving illness and celebrating joy, I renewed my resolve not to live in the past or the future, but right now, and to cherish each day for the gift it is. All that’s happened for me in 2013, including penning this last column, just puts that desire into better relief.
I wish the gift of cherishing the moment to you, too, this Christmas and always, and I especially thank you for the gift of your readership over the years.
I hope you will continue to be in touch with me at Betsysblog.com.
I leave you with the wish for a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of new years!