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1/1/13 10:05 Ronkonkoma

For the past twenty two years I have spent New Year’s Eve with Ali and her family.  Honestly, there are times when we’re driving there on New Year’s Eve and think of the parties, the lunatics and fireworks, and packed crowds in Time’s Square, but this is one family tradition we are maintaining.   When her grandparents were alive, we’d spend the evening at their house, eating Christmas cookies, having a hardy Italian meal and playing Italian cards.  Nana had a tendency to cheat.  Last night Ali held back a card and won a round.  After the ball is dropped, the first morsel of food we eat for good luck is Italian sausage which cooked in the oven a half hour or less.  The oily thick scent of simmering meat and popped champagne poured in wine glasses are prepared for the countdown.  Since Nana and Pops passed, we have spent New Year’s Eve here, at my in-laws.  We keep the tradition, we have the meal and play the cards, and the following morning wake up as if it was a Sunday morning;  looking at the peaceful world of their sleeping neighbors.  There are some changes this year - Ali made breakfast this morning, in the past her mother would make it.  I have not seen my mother-in-law this morning.  The house is different as well, they expanded the kitchen, a table with bar chairs are around it and a small TV plays in a corner - CNBC.  We discussed politics, the fiscal cliff…Hilary Clinton, our family, for instance what happened to so and so’s son and where are they now?  I woke up thinking this can be any other New Years day.  But each New Year brings all of us the opportunity to make changes. I can take a step in a positive direction; I can make some transformations and set new goals. 

For instance this Christmas break has been spent with my family, but also I worked many hours in my room editing the novel.  If you bought the novel from the publisher; I am sorry.  Sorry that they would consider it worthy for publication.  Sorry you spent your money – all twelve of you.  That includes the conductor on the train.  I will apologize to each of you.  There were so many mistakes, and edits - which were clearly not my doing.  Sentences had simple misspellings.  vague sentences would float in the middle of a page.  There was the poor grammar which I know is not my strongest aspect of my writing, but a knowledgeable editor will make corrections.  It was not uncommon for me to cringe and get pissed off - roll my eyes thinking how and why would anyone publish it?  Did they read it?  My book would be the perfect example - why many E-Publishers are not professionals.  The one who accepted the book - cared about one thing, selling books not about publishing good works that were worthy of their readers time or consideration.  I take responsibility as well, I was looking for a publisher who printed books as well as E Books.  I should have scrutinized the book before they said it was ready.  And I am grateful they did not promote this book or that many copies sold.  It's embarrassing.  It’s in my past.  Thank you Danielle for an exceptional job at editing – you made this work more polished. I will be more diligent than letting this go with fly-by-night operation.  I have learned a valuable lesson.

The past year and a half have been difficult for my family.    But it is in the past.  My wife is free of cancer.  My youngest had her tonsils removed with the hope that her epilepsy will be diminished perhaps alleviated altogether.  So I am looking forward to this year.  I am keeping a positive attitude and have set some goals. 
One of my goals is to forge a closer relationship with my son.  We share little with one another.  There is no catch in the back yard since he doesn't want to have a catch.  Rarely is there a time when it’s just the two of us.  Two weeks ago after the first service at church, I found Joe sitting in the hall where Sunday morning classes are.  He looked bored, just staring at the wall.   I had twenty minutes before the second service where I was the reader, and asked Joe if he wanted to take a walk to the beach.  Our church is more than 200 years old, behind it are acres of county preserved woods that lead to Mount Sinai harbor.  At first there was the usual reluctance, wanna go for a walk? “Naahhh,”  Come on…we can find the witch’s house.  I knew this would entice him and he appeared to have no other options since his friends were not around. 
We walked through the chilly woods, stepping over large stones washed up and rolled in the path after the rain storms.  It was a little tricky to walk over them since they were covered by leaves.  We had a deep discussion on religion, death, heaven and he said, “I forgot the word…it’s a long one…” 
“Reincarnation?”
”Yes, that is the one.  Tomo (our new kitten) reminds me of Elphaba (his cat that was hit by a car) and I think it may be her, he does a lot of similar things as Alphaba did.” 
I thought of my response but didn't say it, animal species have similar behaviors, the lions clean themselves the same way a residential cats does, but this would have been cold.  I was impressed my son considered reincarnation and saw his cat in this kitten.  I remember walking to high school  and looking at the robins in the grass and thinking what lives they lived before they were birds.  We discussed Hinduism and Buddhism.  

“Well, God has given us the gift of life and he put us here to serve a purpose."
  
Joe is the artistic type, he reminds me when I was his age and could spend hours drawing, and sketching or day dreaming about a movie or story I wanted to create.  The winds were light, but I knew we needed to head back to church. 
  
While we walked up the hill back to church I asked Joe, “Do you think God punishes people for doing bad things?” 
“No, he said, Isn’t that what some people believe?  There are two books in the Bible and one believes God punishes.” 
“Will, it's sort of true, there is the New Testament which describes the story of Jesus. And the Old Testament which is what you’re referring to.  They believed you had to follow ancient laws and if you did not, you would be punished.” 
“Jesus is God’s son,” Joe said. 
“God is love.  He gave us his only son. He is and the difference between the two books, the old describes the messiah coming and the new tells the story of Jesus and those who believe in him, their sins are forgiven.”
We headed back into church where Emma and Bella were downstairs waiting to watch children in the nursery, I asked they come up and sit with me if there are no children.  Eventually they came upstairs and we sat in the last row.  When it was time for me to read I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss what a deep conversation I had with my son.  I read and looked out at their faces from the pulpit and blessed the reading….

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