Farewell crazy 2018, hello brave, exciting new world of hope in '19
The daffodil shoots have been springing up since the solstice and the weather is almost t-shirts and long shorts balmy.
The global warming omens are there for all with eyes to see in a year which saw record temperatures in Lapland for heaven's sake and wildfires wreaking havoc across continents.
True to form I'm using my last column of the year to reflect on what has been and to look forward to a brave new world in 2019. It has been some time since we've witnessed such a galvanised voting public, both here in Ireland and abroad, as Governments led by cartoonishly vile and morally unscrupulous leaders take hold in powerful countries.
It is hard to avoid mentioning the incumbent and possibly future heir to the White House, Donald Trump. The man was everywhere in 2018, making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, even if he did manage to bolster the American economy for 11 months of the year. His marginal line to a 7-year-old boy being the icing on a hideous Medusa cake of his own making.
Ireland remains a country in a strange kind of free-fall. Never known for its balanced way of managing its people, our Government has been, and is still, fire-fighting issues with both eyes locked on the next election, which in all likelihood, won't be until 2020. The promises keep coming from Mr Smooth, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his coterie, but the reality is people in rural Ireland have been abandoned with no plan B, anyone trying to get on the property ladder in our cities would need to be in a very high earning job at a time when job creation is the preserve of only two, three cities max.
Meanwhile people have nosedived into a new normal of doing everything through their phone and tablet, and many children are spending most of their free time staring at a screen.
So far, in our homes, we've managed to keep the Whirlwind Wonder and The Little Fella away from almost all things tech, (the former has figured out my iPad password and is occasionally found looking up art videos and the latter loves his toy robot Santa brought him, excepted).
As we enter a new year, one in which voters in Ireland, America and across Europe, have clearly tasted the sting and the reward of politics and democracy through successful referenda and appalling elevations of thugs into country leader hegemony, we should all strap ourselves in for an exciting rollercoaster of a year. I'm not normally one for New Year's resolutions, but having spent a Christmas with family, doing all the fun and ridiculously over the top, mad stuff like assembling a croquembouche (French dessert pyramid tower featuring 50 plus profiteroles), on Christmas Eve, I know exactly where my priorities lie for 2019.
Like many, I lost a family member in the run up to Christmas, a man I respected and cared for deeply, even though I sadly rarely saw him due to geography and the fast pace of life. Standing at the graveyard on the hill in Kerry where he was laid to rest and seeing his family, united in their grief as the rain poured down, it brought home to me all that is important in life.
Here's to a healthy, happy 2019!
New Ross Standard