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Holidays span the transition between Old & New

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image As the sun sets on a year, the coming sunrise carries with it the hope for better days. The year will begin with resolutions and end with, for some at least, relief. Photo Mitch Traphagen

Thanksgiving is for gratitude, the New Year is for hope for better things to come.

On Christmas Eve day, I was standing in a long line at the CVS store in Apollo Beach when suddenly a woman wrapped her arms around me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I turned just in time to see Donna Budd, former Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Community Service Officer and the founder of the nonprofit Deputies Darlins, rush out the door and back in. She received a late call about a family of five that was in need on Christmas. She dropped everything to help them.

The holiday season, as it has come to be known, apparently spans the old and the new in terms of perspective and attitude. Gratitude appears on Thanksgiving, peace, love, generosity and family are the focus at Christmas and optimism, along with a healthy dose of “good riddance,” holds court on New Year’s Eve. In just over a month’s time, we realize we survived another year and have a fresh start before us, a new book on which the words are written only with the passing of the first few hours and days of the new year.

Donna Budd only wanted to make Christmas brighter for an area family in need, but what she accomplished was much greater than that. She served as a bridge from the old to the new, providing joy to children and relief to parents, both of which will carry into 2014, giving them reason to believe that this year will be better than the last.

No one knows with any certainty what 2014 will bring. But based on averages, we can expect approximately 50,000 new neighbors to move into Hillsborough County. We can expect political scandals and crime, births and deaths. We can expect wars and continued attempts at making peace.

Americans are somewhat mixed about their forecasts for the New Year, but the largest number falls into the optimistic camp. According to an Associated Press report, nearly 50 percent of Americans believe that 2014 will be better than 2013. Less than 15 percent think it will be worse and roughly a third believe this year will be generally the same as the last.

And although years into the slow economic recovery, and despite that jobs are still a treasured asset for many American workers, only one percent of people said they hoped to ring in the New Year with their co-workers. Most people preferred the company of their spouses, family members or pets.

New Year’s resolutions are always a big part of the year’s book that has yet to be written. By some estimates approximately 40 percent of Americans make them, with the leading resolution being losing weight. Unfortunately, according to research by the University of Scranton, only eight percent of resolutions actually come to fruition. By tax time in April, pretty much all of them (including number 3: spend less, save more) will have gone by the wayside. And, of course, by next Thanksgiving, that whole weight loss thing will be a distant memory. By then, naturally, the world will be on the cusp of a transition from old to new, with yet another new beginning in yet another new year.

Scandals, crime, bad guys and taxes are nearly inevitable for 2014. But so, too, are those things that help people to move forward, to maintain the belief that better days are to come. While a high- profile business person or politician may make headlines for going to (or miraculously avoiding) jail, Donna Budd and the many people like her will be offering quick hugs and kisses on the cheek while rushing out the door to make things better for someone else. People like her spend their year working on the holiday transition between the old and new, with the new offering hope.

But the best hope of all lies within ourselves, as aptly summed up by Helen Keller:  “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

Or for the rest of us the words of actress and writer Catherine O’Hara may best apply: “I know I’m lazy. But I made myself a New Year’s resolution that I would write myself something really special. Which means I have ‘til December, right?”

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