THIS has been quite a year for the Jones family, so, rather than boring you with New Year's resolutions that I'm sure to break within a week or two, I figured I'd share the highlights of 2013.
It was a year that began with my family desperately clinging to the remnants of 2012, beginning with a live Christmas tree we kept until it was mummified.
Things went downhill from there.
In January, I switched jobs, and was forced to end a five-year-relationship with my employer-provided BlackBerry - the phone my daughter, Eve, once called my electronic wife.
At first I thought a younger electronic wife would make me happier. But the iPhone 4 that replaced my BlackBerry was complicated. She had a touchscreen, and if I didn't tap it just right, the moment was ruined. To make matters worse, she had buttons, and, just like a woman, she wouldn't tell me how she wanted me to press them.
Despite those initial missteps, however, my iPhone 4 has grown into her role. Granted, she forced me to cover her sleek, metallic shape with an Otterbox that fits like a housecoat, but that's what electronic wives do. Me? I'm taking the bitter with the sweet, because gaining other family members has helped me to adjust.
In June, a stray cat started hanging out in front of our house. The kids thought she was cute, and started to play with her. I figured no harm could come of it, because LaVeta and the children knew my stance: No pets. Unfortunately, they figured out a way around that rule. They began to feed the cat, ensuring that she would never go away.
I'd come home from work and the cat would be there, smirking as if she knew I'd eventually break. I'd leave for evening meetings and she'd meow and wink from the bushes. By the time she came to me in dreams, telling me her blood would be on my hands if she were hit by a car, I knew the battle was over.
Styx the black cat moved into our home a week later, and she brought the drama along. She's gone through heat, bellowing like a lioness at 4 in the morning for some Tomcat - any Tomcat - to break into our house and meet her needs. We took her to be spayed, and when she returned from the veterinarian, she glared at us with a look that said, "You stole my womanhood."
Overall, though, Styx hasn't been much trouble, although she's in the litter box so often I've taken to calling her "Doo-Doo Kitty." In fact, having a cat has proven to be less trouble than having a lawn.
Once upon a time, the grass in front of my house was my pride and joy. Thanks to my son and his friends holding WWE wrestling matches on my lawn, it now looks like the top of Ed Asner's head. At least I can revive the grass with a rake and some grass seeds. I can't say the same for my beloved old Toyota Camry.
It was September when I realized something was wrong with the car we affectionately called Silver Shadow. She'd been with us for a decade, running admirably even when the kids hurled in the back seat, or spilled juice into the gearshift.
Sure, she'd been subjected to an accident or two. She was even hit by a falling tree limb. When the car overheated, however, and they told me she needed a new engine, I knew she was in her last days, so I did what was right.
I brought her home, cleaned her up and allowed her to live out her final days with dignity. When it was time to trade her in, I turned away, because I couldn't bear to see the look of betrayal in her headlights.
I am, however, glad about one thing. Her replacement, a 2013 Camry that we call Quiet Storm, runs like a dream. I know that's cold, but I'm just saying . . .
There were other milestones in 2013. We took the kids on their first trip to Disney World, and, true to form, LaVeta was sick the whole time. When I visited Disney's pharmacy to get her cold medication, it marked the completion of our pharmaceutical odyssey. As of that day, we'd officially visited every major medical facility on the East Coast.
To her credit, however, LaVeta didn't get sick during every theme-park visit last year. In fact, when we went to Hershey Park, my wife did something she'd never done in our 13 years of marriage: She went on the rollercoasters.
When I asked her why, she said that she was experiencing a midlife crisis, and that she was going to start doing everything she hadn't done when she was a teenager. From talking back to her parents, to sneaking into their medicine cabinet and abusing their Metamucil, LaVeta was going to start living.
Since she didn't do any of those things in 2013, I guess she's saving them for next year, so hold on to your seats, folks, because 2014 is going to be a hoot.