Right on the edge of useful

The Year that was, the Year that Will Be

Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 8:44:40 AM by Jim Babbage

Jim Babbage

As I sit in my sun room, looking out a a thin blanket of fresh snow in the back yard on this last day of 2007, I find myself getting a bit reflective.

Like any year, 2007 had its ups and its downs. Attending and speaking at TODCON is always one of the ups for me, but this year I received a special treat; I was invited to speak at Adobe MAX. I am hoping to be invited back to both again in 2008. They are two completely different types of conferences, both a lot of fun and hard worked combined.

2007 also saw me teaching more than I ever thought I would. I held down two courses at Centennial and 2 - 3 courses at Humber. The total number of students ranged between 130 - 150 each week. I was relieved when the winter break set in but also proud of myself for making it through the semester without a nervous breakdown!

In early 2007, we lost my brother-in-law to a terrible brain disease. He was only a year older than me, and it certainly gave me a far too keen sense of my own mortality. But his loss was traumatic on many more levels other than my own selfish ones. My wife lost her "baby brother," my niece and nephew lost their father and my sister-in-law (who exhibited phenomenol strength and determination, taking care of David at home) lost her husband and love of over 20 years. Many, many others lost a dear friend. The neighbourhood lost a kind-hearted man who always had a smile and a positive thing to say.

Family and friends grew closer through this ordeal, however, and those bonds are continually strengthened. We spent many a happy moment with Sharon, Lindsay and Myles over the holidays. It seems to be true that some good can come from bad.

Every year my house gets the royal treatment for Christmas. We have a crawlspace on one side of the house that contains nothing but Christmas decorations. Santas, snowmen, all manner of glittery objects get pulled out, unpacked and set up for the month of December and early January. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a process that occurs over days, not hours.

One of my personal joys is setting up my Christmas village. Miniature houses, people, animals and even a functional trolley get laid out - usually in a different location each year. This year it was the fireplace mantle. This 10 inch deep slab of maple gave me over 8 feet of length to set up the scene this year. And while somewhat limiting, I like the challenge of making the town work.

In the basement/rec room, I commandeer two book shelves and set up a winter wilderness scene with a (not functional) waterfall, river, mountains and a couple cabins, surrounded in a heavy blanket of polyester snow. 

I also set up a model train which runs around the tree. Well, it runs if the cats haven't derailed a boxcar at some point in the night.

Both the train and the trolley were gifts from my Dad, from his own collection. Even some of the houses were left to me. He had his very own room at home where it was nothing but trains. I have a bit of the bug, but not so much that I've blockaded a room yet.

So it's kind of bittersweet when I bring the town to life each year; makes me feel closer to him and at the same point, makes me miss him all the more. He was a bigger kid at Christmas than me and that's saying a lot.

2008 brings with it a whole new semester with new students. I won't be teaching as much as in the fall, but I'll be busy nonetheless, including an exciting project with Peach Pit Press, presenting at a local camera club and of course, writing for Community MX.

I hope 2008 brings other things, too. I hope it safely brings back home our friends and family serving overseas.

I hope it brings a calmer climate, both politically and geophysically.

I hope it brings the Canadian dollar down just a bit, so my CMX cheques pack more punch and I can yet again offer web design deals to my American cousins!

I hope you have all had a wonderful, safe and happy holiday so far. If you're out celebrating tonight, make sure to bring change for a cab - or a sleeping bag - so you can enter the new year safe and sound as well.

Thank you to all my friends here on CMX, partners and subscribers alike, for making it once again an honor and a pleasure to be part of this team.

See ya next year! 

Category tags: On the Personal Side