New Year brings reflection on life ahead

Gloria Hudson and Dick Paxton celebrate during the Pelham Senior Center’s annual New Year’s Eve dance.

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Last week, storyteller Dolores Hydock shared stories for the new year at the Pelham New Pioneers’ Thursday luncheon. Hydock brought Bess Streeter Aldrich’s character Ella Burke to life.

Burke is a woman suffering a bare existence who discovers after her husband’s death that he has amassed a fortune —- and she’s not poor at all. Burke is so accustomed to living frugally that she finds it hard to spend money.

Finally, she decides to enjoy her wealth and says, “Life ahead will be different than life behind.”

The Pioneers loved Hydock and her stories — especially this one. Hydock told me more about the author, urging me to read Aldrich’s work.

“Part of my mission is to resurrect classic authors,” Hydock said.

Transitioning from year to year causes both reflection and planning. Rebecca Burnett, freshmen English teacher at Pelham High School and Shelby County’s Teacher of the Year, assigned her students to record their Top 10 in 2010.

Researchers insist that focusing on the positive makes us happy. In making resolutions for a new year, we’re really assessing what needs improvement in our lives. Adding Burnett’s Top 10 in 2010 twist reminds us to assess what’s right too.

Remembering what is right about our lives gives us the courage to consider what we need to do to make life even better.

Ben Franklin said, “Resolve to do what you ought. Do what you resolve without fail.”

Franklin offers such simple wisdom. Yet, it’s so hard to do what we ought to do.

Before leaving the senior center, two of the Pioneers, Dick Paxton and Gloria Hudson, invited me to come back for their New Year’s Eve party.

I’ve written about Paxton and Hudson’s amazing dancing, yet I’d never made it to that party and seen them in all their finery.

On New Year’s Eve, my family takes down Christmas decorations. When the task is over, we’re exhausted and covered in Christmas tree needles.

This year, we finished early and my promise to watch a lovely couple dance in the New Year called to me.

My husband tagged along.

Choosing only 10 top events for 2010 seems impossible. Rushing into Pelham’s Senior Center late New Year’s Eve night and snapping pictures of smiling dancers would certainly make the list.

So would a dance with my husband on New Year’s Eve.

This year I resolve to clean less — and to dance and smile more.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.