That’s what so many are doing this time of year. Grocery lists for entertaining, lists for gift giving, or if you’re a self-improvement type, maybe a head start on a list of New Year’s resolutions.

Often the most fascinating lists are the “Year End Top Ten (fill in the blank) for 2018.” Movies, TV series, best-selling books, travel destinations, automobiles, toys, phones, you name it, right down to lipsticks, tweezers, and garbage disposals. No subject is too unimportant to cover.

The funny part is the excessive excitement and superlative descriptions entailed in these lists. Everything is over-the-top marvelous. It reminds me of when we visited a town in the Northeast once and actually (unbelievably, this is the truth) were somewhat influenced to move there by the sign on Main Street proclaiming it “One of the Top Ten Small Towns in America.” Sigh.

But I digress. The point is, we can assess the past year without help from pundits whose well-intentioned yet unsolicited opinions are now appearing everywhere in the media. I say make your own list, maybe the top ten things that happened to you in 2018. Then share it with me.

Or maybe give me your five worst moments and five best. Normally I don’t encourage whining, but if we do it first, then follow up with the positive, it works. Maybe you were touched by the devastating fires in California or lost someone dear to you. But maybe also you published a book, started your own company, or received an award.

I’ll start you off. In October my husband Keith and I lost our best buddy, Carson, who would have been 14 years old next month. He died peacefully in his sleep, and we’re grateful for that, but the loss is immeasurable.

On the other hand,

  1. 2018 saw us begin a new life in central Portugal in a lovely home in the country, where we’ve made some special friends.
  2. My position with International Living Magazine as Portugal Correspondent has required new roles: making videos about life here, doing podcasts, speaking at conferences, and participating in a country tour.
  3. We came to our senses and realized a new car would cost the same as our used one, with all the repair costs that had been mounting. (We are thankfully no longer wearing out our roadside assistance cards, recognizing tow truck drivers by name.)

To quote one of my favorite authors, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

I just have one change to make (sorry, Dickens). “…it was the winter of despair, it was the spring of hope.”

Merry Christmas and blessings to you all in the new year.