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My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)

“And a happy new year
With love overflowing
With joy in our hearts
For the blessed new year”

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

Hold the phone – this is my NINTH year doing this end of year recap post!

What the what? I was sure it had only been a handful, but no, I started doing this in 2013! I think I added questions to it over the years, and this recap, like me, has certainly seen some strange times. I’m not the person I was eight years ago, and I will probably be a new version of myself eight years from now. And will I still be doing this annual recap? You bet I will! And another fun tidbit I saw today in Facebook memories was a photo of the “whole family” exactly four years ago this week, after our first night in our newly renovated master bedroom. There were five of us! Cassidy, Me, Scarlet, Des, Athena! Since then we have added another dog (Astro), a cute cat (Luna), another puppy (Lucy), and a baby (Rider). And come April 2022, we will have DOUBLED IN FAMILY SIZE. Ten family members! Hold the phone and what the what? We keep growing!

we woke up like this

We will most likely stop at four kids, three dogs, and one cat, but the blog? It will keep going.

“Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer
For us all who are gathered here
And a happy new year to all that is living
To all that is gentle, kind, and forgiving
Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer
My dear acquaintance, a happy new year”

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

1 – What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?

Well, ****. I feel like this one is starting so aggressively I almost want to retreat! That would be too easy, wouldn’t it?? What did I do in 2021 that I had never done before? I think I got some major humbling. It wasn’t even the pandemic or the baby, or the combination of the two. It was some old demons resurfacing, that aren’t gone, but I was definitely altered by them, forever. It was like reaching a mental point that eight years of therapy couldn’t give me. And no, that doesn’t mean I won’t and don’t need much more humbling, but it was a giant leap. It definitely approached the way I communicate, apologize, let go, accept, and not fight the harsh, raw, and loving truths.

And that was big. I don’t think I’ll go back.

2 – Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I can’t even remember if I had any? I definitely reached places in my emotional and physical health that I did not think were possible. I lost all of my baby weight, super healthily, only to get surprise pregnant again the same month I reached my pre-pregnancy weight! And alluding to the first question and answer, I think I just reached healthier places with myself and, thus, with Cassidy. Plus all of the prenatal testing showed me I was much healthier than I ever knew! Woo!

I hope that all stays/comes back.

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

3 – Did anyone close to you give birth?

Well, it was a year off for me, but one of my closest friends from my youth had a baby girl!

(This is her with baby Des)

4 – Did anyone close to you die?

In such a year, or two, of colossal losses, we have been lucky here. I never take that for granted, as the loss of my father in my toddler years pretty much has altered and impacted my fears and expectations for life. I love when I don’t have obvious answers to this question. Let that continue.

old hands intertwined with young hands

5 – What countries did you visit?

Ha! That’s a good one! With the pandemic and all. And the baby. And then the other baby! Gosh.

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

6 – What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?

I’d say travel, but I did get a tiny bit of that at the end of 2021, with my Dutchess County work trip, and with celebrating Christmas in New Jersey. And I’d say international travel, but there is still a pandemic and I’m having another baby and we’re pretty house-poor from our numerous home renovations. So, anyway. I don’t feel that I lacked much in 2021, because it was a big roller coaster of hope and darkness for pretty much all of us, so maybe I will say more acceptance and stability of this world. And of course, always working to make it a better place. I want to do more.

I voted sticker

7 – What was your biggest achievement of the year?

We should just, yet again, draw attention to the humbling and breaking down of some of my crusty walls and exteriors. Plus, my older kids are still kind people, and my baby (toddler) is a super secure, loved, happy, goofy being. And the unborn baby is so far very healthy and active!

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

8 – What date from 2021 will remain etched upon your memory?

July 9th, 2021. That was Scarlet’s 12th birthday, but also the day of my LMP (last menstrual period) because we went to Salem for her birthday on the 10th and I remember being a little put off by traveling on day 2. Well. Things sure have changed since then, and I’m still stunned.

9 – What was your biggest failure?

Can I make a joke and just say that birth control failure was my biggest failure? I don’t regret it now, but I was ashamed and embarrassed and shocked at first. Definitely going with something stronger in 2022! Anyway, it was a weird year of hope and vaccines, and fear and COVID and illness and having a baby, and being pregnant with a new baby at the same time, so I don’t think I need to get too heavy with this one. It was a year of trying, and 2022 will be as well.

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

10 – Did you suffer illness or injury?

I got a cold after an unusually long time without one. And I did get some pregnancy queasiness.

11 – Whose behavior merited celebration?

Scientists/healthcare workers! Children, handling life with more grace and hope than adults.

12 – What was the best thing you bought?

There were no big purchases this year, like cars or plane tickets, although the home renovations were completed in 2021.. I’d say it’s a combination of all the little things that bring big joy, like crisp Goldrush apples, warm fuzzy socks, and gifts for loved ones. Library late fees? Good soup.

toddler in pink moose onesie

13 – Where did most of your money go?

I think towards the mortgage and starting to pay off our gigantic home renovations!

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

14 – What did you get really, really, really excited about?

For awhile there, there was a beautiful new lease on life. The sun started coming out and we had this gorgeous baby with a gorgeous home renovation and the gorgeous sunshine streaming in. That didn’t stop, of course, but there was so much hope that time because of the weather and sunlight and growing baby. We got vaccines and we learned ever more about each other. The kids went back to school and stayed healthy and they were happy there. Things seem darker now, but I know they’re not. It’s just like how the sun sets and rises, and the earth turns away from it, for months out of the year. Things seem bleaker and darker, but it all comes back.

15 – What song will always remind you of 2021?

“Trouble Me” by 10,000 Maniacs comes on like.. a half dozen of my Pandora playlists. I’m feeling it.

16 – Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or sadder? A little of both, really. It’s just.. up and down.
Thinner or fatter? I mean, I’m not “fatter” but I’m bigger because I’m 25 weeks pregnant.
Richer or poorer? Probably about the same? There have been huge expenses and also nice contracts with shiny new work challenges.

17 – What do you wish you’d done more of?

I mean, I can’t help thinking I wish I had traveled more when I had the chance? There was a brief time in which life felt more normal again. I wish I had seen the ocean. It will be two years this February away from the ocean. I wish I had gone to New Jersey more than once, or taken a COVID-safe trip to Cape Cod. It was such an up and down year with money, marriage, the pandemic, and finding out about the pregnancy in the middle of the year. It took some turns!

18 – What do you wish you’d done less of?

I guess I wish I’d done less working. It’s nice to just get lost in the days, especially when they’re full of sunshine and love.

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

19 – Did you fall in love in 2021?

I do every year, but perhaps more than usual, with my family. And this active unborn baby!

20 – How many one-night stands?

Who writes these things? Are they aimed towards 20-somethings who are not in a pandemic??

21 – Who were your best friends?

Aww, my sister and my daughter and one of my dogs and my only cat!

22 – What thing did you do that was meaningful to others?

I think I’ve been better at this in previous years, just because of my near shut-in status lately, but Cassidy and I actively work to make people’s lives more magical. And sometimes money is tight, and sanity is hard to find, but it’s nice to let people know that they are meaningful to you. The most meaningful thing you do is let others feel loved, seen, heard. Meaning begets meaning?

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

23 – What were your favorite TV programs?

It was an incredible year for TV, with the Marvel shows, like Hawkeye, WandaVision, What If…?, and Loki. Cassidy and I loved Ted Lasso. When I’m left to my own devices, I love Good Trouble and also The Bold Type, although it was canceled. I still watch This Is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, and A Million Little Things. I adore Curb Your Enthusiasm, but we’re behind on that.

24 – Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Hate is a strong word. I hate people who hate, so if I say that, am I really any better? I’ll say that I strongly dislike people and it’s mostly the same ones I disliked last year! I made more efforts to unfriend or unfollow or disengage, but I still cannot understand people going out there and actively spreading COVID, and for what? For stupid lunch plans that can be rescheduled?

Yeah, I think I’ll stay home with my pets.

25 – What was the best book you read in 2021?

I’m honestly trying to log into my library account to even remember what I read! I’m a voracious reader but it wasn’t my best year for reading. I probably got more caught up in some of Rider’s baby books! I should have answered “read” to the above question about what I wish I had done more of in 2021! I’m currently reading House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune.

26 – What was your greatest musical discovery?

We play this game with the kids in the car, where we play Beatles albums in order and have them guess which Beatle is singing. They’re really good at it! And it’s making me discover Beatles songs I never knew, and also find out more trivia and history about the ones I did know.

I mean, so many masterpieces.

27 – What did you want and get?

The continued health of loved ones, a pregnancy I didn’t even know I wanted but I DID wish for it on my birthday candles (which is incidentally right when “it” happened but maybe it already had before that – or after – yay, wishes?!), and a whole lot of chocolate and good feelings.

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

28 – What did you want but did NOT get?

To believe that people aren’t morons. MOOSE. The ocean. A shooting star or seven.

29 – What was your favorite film of this year?

I think this was a similar disaster to the whole book question and answer. I’ve always loved movies but it hasn’t been a big year for me watching them. We’ve watched a lot of weird ones, but we did love Shang-Chi very much!

30 – What kept you sane?

As always, it’s the thought and fact that there are some people out there operating on or near my frequency. Plus, bubble baths, advent calendars, chocolate, Starbucks baristas, the kindness and stability of my family members, and my adorable cat. She’s like.. not even real.

31 – Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

No one even comes close, but I really do love Roy Kent on Ted Lasso.

32 – Who was the best new person you met this year?

Did I meet anyone this year??? I’m a big fan of the Starbucks baristas in Northampton on King Street. Scarlet and Des have made new friends in fourth and seventh grades, and I’ve enjoyed meeting them. Also, we met new neighbors in 2021 and they have a daughter sort of near Scarlet’s age, and they are SUCH GOOD FRIENDS. And they have a little baby boy who will get into some good hijinks with Rider, as they will go to school together. That’s been GREAT!

33 – Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021.

I know I always knew this, but honesty and vulnerability are EVERYTHING. I think I knew this but didn’t always put this into practice, relying on denial and excuses at times. Now I’m.. too much sometimes. I’ll tell you why I’m not meeting you at the park (anxiety/ nervous stomach – fun)!

34 – Who did you miss?

Another year of missing loved ones, although I was able to see my dad, my brother, and my little sister this year, which was SO NICE! I saw my dad three times which isn’t up to our old levels but it was an improvement for sure. And with some loved ones, we got to see them more than usual.

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

35 – Quote song lyrics that sums up your year:

“Why let your shoulders bend
Underneath this burden
When my back is sturdy and strong?
Trouble me

Don’t mislead me
The calm I feel means a storm is swelling
(Speak to me) there’s no telling where it starts or how it ends
(Speak to me) why are you building this thick brick wall to defend me
(Speak to me) when your silence is my greatest fear?

Why let your shoulders bend
Underneath this burden
When my back is sturdy and strong?
Speak to me

Have a look inside these eyes while I’m learning
(Let me) please don’t hide them just because of tears
(Let me) send you off to sleep with a
“There, there, now stop your turning and tossing”
(Let me) let me know where the hurt is and how to heal”

And a happy new year, With love overflowing, With joy in our hearts. For the blessed new year, My Dear Acquaintance by Regina Spektor

Oh my goodness, that’s it! Thanks for reading, friends, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

“And a happy new year to all that is living
To all that is gentle, young, and forgiving
Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer
My dear acquaintance, a happy new year
Happy new year”

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3 Comments

  1. Happy New Year to you and everyone in your family Tamara, and to everyone in your blogging family❣ 🎆🎉🎈 It’s been a year that’s hard to describe in just one simple sentence. Many of us didn’t know what to expect of 2021 when the year began. I have pretty much the same feelings entering this brand new year. Anyway we’ll roll with the changes yet again, and get through 2022 together just like we did the last two years! More happy pics to enjoy Tamara, and l always enjoy your end of the year recap post!

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