Well - we've made it. 2016 is dead and gone, and 2017 is here (admittedly I'm a day late, but never mind).
In my collection of obituaries from 2016, I promised you a more positive slant in my follow-up post. It's been an eventful year which has brought many trials and much cause of despair, but also so much to celebrate. Sure, Brexit happened, Donald Trump was elected president and David Bowie died; but on the other hand, I am now a happily married man, as are three of my best friends.
So rather than mourn for the state of our world, berate my own personal shortcomings, or list a set of resolutions to which I am unlikely to keep, I thought instead that I would count my blessings and list all the things for which I am thankful. Apologies if this comes across as self-indulgent, but given the amount of darkness and hate which dominates our public discourse, I hope you will forgive me.
In no particular order (hopefully I haven't missed anything out!)...
I AM THANKFUL that I have a God who loves me, who is continually working in my life to shape me to serve His purpose, who constantly encourages me to look beyond the here and now, and who has blessed me with so much thus far.
I AM THANKFUL that I have a wife in Aimee who loves me deeply and unconditionally; a wife who never takes herself too seriously, who always looks out for me (as I hope I do for her), who has a brilliant way of reading human behaviour, and who combines a heart of gold with a tongue of razor wit.
I AM THANKFUL to have a family who love me, parents who support me in my chosen career, a sister who always wants the best for me, a grandmother who is unflinching in her compassion, and a new family (Aimee's side) who are warm, welcoming and immensely loyal.
I AM THANKFUL to have so many friends to make fantastic memories, whether writing musicals, visiting quirky places or just sharing a good pint. I am also thankful that it is relatively easy to see so many of them socially, even if it involves travelling a short distance.
I AM THANKFUL that I have a steady job which give me enough to keep a roof over my head, and that this job is something which is both meaningful and enjoyable. Whatever complaints or struggles lie therein, I am in a better position than many in my country and in the world as a whole.
I AM THANKFUL that I live in a country where I can worship how and who I want, say what I like, go where I please and read or write what I wish. Not everyone is so fortunate.
I AM THANKFUL that I have the means to travel to see more of this country, for which - in spite of everything our current leaders may do - I remain proud.
I AM THANKFUL that, while I could be lighter on my feet, I am generally healthy and have plenty of means at my disposal to improve my health - including a huge park and a swimming pool practically on my doorstep.
I AM THANKFUL that I have access to culture, whether film, TV, plays, music or other, which make me think and improve my understanding of the world.
Happy new year and God bless you all :)