For the past six winters, Christmas has been a very emotional holiday for my mother and me: my father's birthday is Jan. 11; he passed away Jan. 14, 2007.
I still remember our last Christmas Eve together. The three of us went to midnight Mass at the Eden United Methodist Church. It was beautiful: red and white poinsettias decorated the stage; the lights were dimmed; everyone in the congregation was given a candle while singing "Oh Holy Night." It is tradition to hum the last verse.
The feel of my father's hand still warms me six years later - that night, for whatever reason, I had a feeling our time together was limited. After service, while walking to our car through a wall of Western New York snow flurries, I reminded him that I loved him.
"I love you too sweetie," he said with a smile; casually; as always. Three weeks later he was gone. I currently have no regrets in my life because of that moment - I said what was important.
The world was slated to end Friday. Many apocalypse fears originated in the belief that Niberiu, a planet allegedly discovered by the Sumerians, would hit Earth in May 2003. When the world did not perish, however, new claims were put forward that it would hit earth on Dec. 21, 2012 - the day that the Mayan long-count calendar ended.
If you're reading this, then it didn't, which is nice. Not that I ever thought it would. But just to cover my bases, I made sure I told everyone in my life just how much I cared about them Thursday evening. And I did my laundry.
I boarded a train early the next morning - I was heading to Eden to spend Christmas with my mother. While on my way home, I considered that another, milder, kind of doomsday is approaching in a week: New Year's. But instead of building "survival pods," like one Chinese inventor, or underground bunkers, like another Italian contractor, people will be celebrating.
Even though the lead up to the end of another year is different, similar emotions tend to ensue: reflection, and often times, regret. People recall all their years, shallow and deep, and make resolutions - they resolve to be better, to do better, to make up for the past.
Sometime in the three weeks before his death, I asked my dad if he had any. I think I was helping him put Christmas decorations away. He was on the ladder leading up to the attic, a box of something in hand, when I posed the question.
His reply was simple. "I have you and your mother," he said with a smile; casually; as always. "There's nothing to regret." Everything he did in life lead to us.
Make sure the people you love know it.
Take that trip you've been dreaming about.
Get a gym membership and use it.
Read more. Sleep more. Drink and smoke less.
Whatever the resolution, if you're not happy, then figure out a way to be. Because when it comes down to it, this world will end for all of us eventually. Like my father, I will have no regrets.