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Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015: A Year to Remember for My Family...

"Manu, where are you?" I texted our eldest daughter (sadly, the best way to reach her!), in hopes she would join us to countdown the New Year.  She was lost amidst the throngs of people gathered at a party to ring in new beginnings and say farewell to old acquaintances, who would never be thought of again." (As the song says; although a bit harsh, don't you think?)

"Leave her alone," my wife insisted, knowing she was with a group of girls about her age somewhere in the house, or in the vicinity!

Listen, our daughter is a freshman in high school.  In four years, she'll be out of our house (not that I want it but she has her heart set on going away!) and who knows how long before she starts wanting to celebrate New Year's Eve with friends, somewhere other than with us.  I'm clinging to those last few years we have and, so, is it out of the question that I would want her to be with us, as the clock strikes twelve?

"I see mama," she texted back from somewhere in the crowd.  As I scanned the crowd like the Terminator scanning the landscape for the young John Connor (albeit without all the fancy computer data popping up in my viewfinder), I still couldn't see her.  Before I knew it, the fireworks started going off.  It was the new year! (We were at a party across from the Biltmore Hotel, which has a yearly fireworks display.)

La familia; notice the wine, cigar and cell phone... 
I kissed my wife and little ones, as friends hugged and kissed their families and everyone around them, ate the traditional grapes for each month of the upcoming year and drank champagne (neither of which I partook in because I was too busy smoking a cigar with a few male friends and, when we noticed the time, we had to scramble out to meet our families about five minutes before midnight!). In the haste to look for my wife and kids, I forgot to get my grapes and champagne!

In the midst of our celebration, pictures and selfies, I turned around and there she was; our lost sheep. We hugged and kissed her and took more pictures and selfies before I started calling my parents and brother on my cell.

Now, I'm sure for many, 2015 was a year of great loss, regrets and even some forgettable moments.

For the world, it was the year that ISIS became a household name; the bloody massacre in Paris that took the life of more than 130 people and injured another 350, the downing of a Russian plane, which killed over 220 souls on board, the indiscriminate slaughter and beheading of Christians, including children, in various Muslim countries and the escalation of the civil war in Syria, which left hundreds of thousands of innocent victims dead or displaced.

For the nation, it was the year marriage was redefined, reality TV stars Donald Trump (called the most hated man in America) and Caitlyn Jenner (the man formerly known as Bruce, who will unlikely become an unpronounceable love signal before turning Jehovah's Witness, but who knows?) jostled for media headlines, a white supremacist in Charleston massacred a prayer group at church, a reporter was murdered on live TV and the images posted on social media by the killer and an ISIS-inspired terror attack at a company holiday party in California.

Winston came to stay...
However, for the Espinosa clan, 2015 was a banner year.  It was a year of Sacraments (our oldest daughter, yes, the lost sheep, received her Confirmation and our son's and niece's First Holy Communion), a graduation (again, our eldest from grammar school), new beginnings (my brother finally got hitched at the tender age of... well, let's just say in his 40's, and the same daughter started high school; yes it was a huge year for her!).  We had an addition to the family; a furry Yorkie-like mix named Winston, and, to carry the banner theme further, after years of suffering and frustration, my New York Mets finally won the National League Pennant and made it to the World Series, though they lost!  (Not to mention, my Washington Redskins made the playoffs after most experts had picked them to finish last in their division, but who's counting?)

Furthermore, my wife's Zumba business took off.  She's become the fitness guru to a group of friends, which call themselves "The Mamitas."  Her translation company had another successful year, as she worked for one of the GOP presidential candidates in his bid for the White House.  And, to top it off, she started a Beach Body business as well. Now, that's not counting her day job or real estate business, which she put to the side this year, but what more can I say? My wife is an overachiever!

You already know about our eldest, but our younger daughter (and middle child) had a great year too. After recovering from a broken foot (she is the first ever to break a bone in our household) that she suffered while dancing, she recovered well enough to compete at Nationals in Orlando, where despite going up against much bigger schools, they ended up placing.  She went on her 4th Grade trip to St. Augustine with Mom and earned First Honors at school in her first semester in 5th.

Just chilling...
As a family, we had a busy summer.  We went on our annual family vacation to Sanibel. My wife, eldest and mother-in-law traveled to London for our niece's First Holy Communion.  The kids and my wife went to Orlando for the dance competitions and I took the kids to Ashland, Oregon, in what began as our own version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, for my brother's wedding.

Therefore, as the new year brings hope of greater things to come for most, I can't help but remember 2015 fondly.  It's going to take a lot to top it for us.  Yet, hopefully, God will continue to bless our family with good health, lots of love and plenty of peace.  In fact, maybe, the Mets will actually win the World Series!  And, then,  I'll be saying the same thing next year, as we celebrate with family, including our lost sheep (who will be one year closer to leaving home, yikes!) and great friends.

Cheers to 2016...

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