PEN&INKee^POSSIBILITIESee^:Starting the year off right with family

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By Kirsten Laskey

To correctly start off the New Year you should reflect on the year that has just passed.

Therefore, as my sister, her husband, their three children and I sat around their dining room table on Dec. 31, we all listed the high points for 2009.

My sister said her oldest son, Connor, doing spectacular in kindergarten and expanding the family to include their golden retriever, Bruno as among her favorite events of 2009.

My brother-in-law said he has enjoyed his 4-year-old daughter, Mairen, offering her assistance with household chores.

I can’t remember Connor’s and Mairen’s highlights – they were caught up in the excitement of the moment and had so many possibilities to select from: Mairen enrolled in had pre-school and ballet classes, while Connor attended kindergarten and hockey lessons.

They also received  a dog that is their  giant, white, curly-haired friend  as well as the privilege to have grandparents who are just 10 minutes away to host birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners and a scattering of sleepovers.

Their youngest son, Colin, hasn’t spoken words but he merrily chirped away that night, which seemed to indicate that he had a good year, too.

I’ve had many great highlights this past year – despite an economy that seems to loathe newspapers, I still have a job that I love; I moved from a shoebox to a proper apartment; and I gained the world’s greatest friends; but the one real big highlight is having my sister and her family here in Los Alamos.

Spending the last few hours of 2009 is one example of how the light has become brighter since the Hoch family came to town.

During New Year’s Eve, my sister and brother-in-law were hovered over their blender, mixing various ingredients to produce the perfect filling for deviled eggs, Mairen grabbed a paper towel and helped me clean the dining room table and Connor made sure the two of us were sitting together.  

We stuffed ourselves with cold shrimp and cocktail sauce, tortilla chips and guacamole and Mairen and Connor zoomed to the freezer for some superhero-themed popsicles, while the grown-ups sipped on champagne.

The kid in all of us popped out when we began to tell silly jokes. Connor’s jokes all involved spiders and my sister probably told the wittiest yarns.

From an outpouring of gags came an outpouring of dancing. My brother-in-law, Greg, turned up the volume on his iPod and soon he and my sister were performing the best improvisational dancing I’ve seen. Infected with the dancing fever, I picked up Mairen and the two of us did the tango.

At first Connor was too busy playing with his Transformers but soon he declared, “Shake what your mama gave you!” and began to boogie on the living room floor. He even became chivalrous and asked his sister for a dance.

It was pitch-black when I left my sister’s home, but the light from the evening’s fun illuminated everything. Even with 2009 snuffed out that glow has continued and it shines on all that I received last year.