As this year winds to its ignominious conclusion, I am defiantly focused on the things in my life that I am happy about. These include but are not limited to Claire, growing like a weed, gap-toothed, volatile, brilliant and charming; Julia, rose-lipped, wide-eyed, white-haired and implacable. Jeremy, muscular from wushu and still as funny and even-tempered as ever, continues to put up with me despite my cranky shenanigans. Australia is beautiful, my favourite beach golden and opal, the air full of sunshine and birdsong. Mangoes here smell like childhood and hope.

We still have all four of the childrens’ grandparents, and fine grandparents they are too. All siblings are likewise present and accounted for, and most are happily pair-bonded to boot. My niece and nephew Kelly and Ross are delightful and intelligent and obviously closely related to my own daughters. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a bit wet, but he’s no John Howard, and for this we are all extremely grateful. Similarly Obama, while under more pressure than any one man should have to bear, has shown an enviable track record of steely nerves, and his cabinet appointments are thoughtful and encouraging.

The world is full of books to read and films to watch, meals to make and eat, music to hear and play, science museums to explore, valleys and forests and mountains and beaches to hike and camp at and loll upon. I’m glad there is a Kiva.org and a Human Rights Watch and a Medicins Sans Frontieres, a St Luke’s Hospital and a Monroe Elementary School. The same Pacific washes Sydney and San Francisco. The same tide that washes my past away carries me forward into my childrens’ future.

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