The new year is barely two days old and I’ve already seen numerous posts/tweets/articles setting low expectations and bracing for life in 2022. After all the fun we had in 2020 and 2021, some people are expecting more of the same dumpster fire goodness in 2022. Some people are adamant that this year must be better, or else….something.

I was mostly on the fence about which camp to join, though dumpster fire pessimism was in the lead, as we spent the waning hours of 2021 being dealt a positive COVID test result for our five-year-old daughter and the first days of 2022 trapped in our house with several sick, sleep-deprived and ornery children. This afternoon, stress and self-pity levels were at all-time highs around here for us parents.

But then I remembered that today is January 2, and that day means something big to me. Today is the seventh anniversary of the day that I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Compare any other difficulty you have going on in your life right now with hearing the phrase “you have cancer,” and you’d probably prefer any other difficulty.

While everything turned out for the best1, the raw emotions of that moment and that day are one of the memories that I can most easily recall from my entire life. It was scary and it was mandatory. The next six months of my life were forced to unfold in a particular way thanks to that diagnosis.

Fast forward to this afternoon. It’s 20 degrees outside, but it’s also the first significant snowfall of the winter, so I bundle up my two oldest kids–the very kids that my oncologist told me I was unlikely to ever produce after chemotherapy–and take them outside for shoveling and shenanigans.

We pulled out our new sled and, somehow lacking a proper rope with which to pull them, I jerry-rigged an extension cord through the too-narrow holes in the front of the sled. I pulled them in circles around our backyard as they howled with delight and held on for dear life.

And looking at this resulting photo of my kids, Charlie is demonstrating exactly how I want to head into 2022. I want to have a knit Cubs hat pulled down over my eyes to the point where I can barely see my surroundings or notice the negativity that is swirling through the world these days. I want to have a giant smile on my face as I take in the wonder of new experiences and a confidence that the person on the sled behind me has got my back.

I want to remember that whatever the coming personal challenges of 2022 might be, they are not as hard as they could be or as hard as some challenges already have been.

Let’s all strive to keep smiling as we take another lap around the yard and to hold our fellow passengers closely on the sled.

  1. as I have exhaustively documented previously

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