For some of us the end of the year is an enjoyable time when personal, family and work life comes together harmoniously with the Christmas holidays and the anticipation of a New Year. For those of us on the hectic lane, the festive season is more like a sprint to the finish line.
Whether you're frantic trying to buy presents for the kids, stressing over the festive meal for the family, worrying about all the uncompleted stuff at work or wondering how to occupy yourself in the next 2 weeks, the year-end festive period is still a good time to take a step back (or a couple of steps back for some of us) and reflect.
The down time allows us to reflect on the past year, think about what we've done or not done, the change we want to make, and what we want to do in the New Year. This activity may or may not lead to a list of New Year resolutions but it helps most of us to determine the next step forward.
For some of us the year was a scenic cruise along River Rhine, with interesting sights and enjoyable experiences along the way. The year has treated me fairly well in most personal respects taking into account my 70 percent travels.
Work though hectic has been largely rewarding. It has allowed me to live in various cities and countries, meet different people, experience diverse cultures and activities, stay in few luxury hotels, savour delicious food and drinks and enjoy many sunrises and sunsets.
A chance encounter with Weekendnotes and subsequent decision to write in this media has allowed me to share those lifestyle and travel experiences. Kind words from a small group of subscribers, readers and supportive editors and publisher have encouraged continued articles starting with experiences in Australia and Singapore.
For some friends, the year had been cruel on reflection, with job losses, relationship challenges, poor health issues or just being stuck in a rut you're convinced you'll never get out off. Some swear there's no hope left in the world with all the economic gloom and doom in their part of US and Europe. My constant travels resulted in little time with parents. The decision to call Melbourne home this year also means an orphaned Christmas and New Year away from family. Fortunately I've met some lovely people and made some excellent friends in Melbourne who are taking turns to adopt me during the festive season.
When you reflect on the world around you, you may find that someone else had worse. In the UK, no less than 48,000 households will be homeless this Christmas as repossession and unemployment force them into temporary accommodations. In Australia, nearly 700,000 children are living in families where neither parent is employed and FoodBank Australia estimates that 680,000 people in the State of New South Wales alone are struggling to put a meal on the table every year.
According to US census data, the number of Americans in poverty has grown to the highest in the more than 50 years at 48.5 million, or almost 16% of the population. In Syria, at least 40,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011 and more than 500,000 others have fled to neighbouring countries with many more displaced within the country. Globally, 231 disasters caused 5,469 deaths, affected 87 million people and caused USD44.6 billion in economic damages between January to October 2012 accordingly to the United Nations Agency for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).
However the wonderful thing about the year-end season is you get the opportunity for a fresh start or to make a difference when the clock strikes 12, whoever and wherever you are. This is the season for wishes to set everything right.
My first wish is greater stability and security in the lives of those less fortunate among us in the world. Second is to spend more time with my family in the New Year. Despite the busy work schedule and living further away, its important to let them know and show that I love them.
My final wish is for my subscribers and readers. I hope Christmas and the New Year will bring great joy to you and your families, and may all your wishes come true. I also hope you'll enjoy my stories from Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Americas in the New Year.
As you reflect on the good and not so good in the past year, what are your Wishes for Christmas and New Year?