Andrew Jackson raised his glass and waited a moment for quiet to descend on the family seated around the table.
“I would like to propose a toast,” he said when he had gained everybody’s attention. “First of all to the wonderful woman I married 30…” he paused to do a quick calculation in his head… “two years ago who makes my life what it is and to whom I am forever grateful. Rose, you are the best. Second, to the children. Randy, Brady and Jennifer. How you all turned out so well despite having me as a role model is beyond me. I blame your mother. Thirdly to Jackie, Amanda and Alan, for choosing to become a part of this crazy bunch and bringing happiness to my children and blessing us with the grandchildren we love so dearly, Allison, Andy and the one on the way who doesn’t have a name yet. And finally, to the greatest country in the world, where we can live in peace, freedom and prosperity. So, here’s to a great year gone by and a better year just arrived. Happy New Year! Cheers!”
There was a loud chorus of agreement from around the table as everybody raised their glasses and drank.
“Thirty-three,” said Rose, when the hubbub had died down.
“Huh?” said Andrew.
“You married me 33 years ago, not 32.” “Dang it.” Andrew shook his head. “I was so close. What can I say? It only feels like 32.”” “Good save Dad,” said Jennifer, laughing. “And a good toast, other than that,” said Brady. He raised his own glass. “Here’s to you Pops. You’re all right.”
“Thanks Brady,” said Andrew. “That’s what every father wants to hear from his kids. That he’s all right.”
“Brady’s right though Dad,” said Randy grinning. “You’re OK. Not bad. Could be worse.”
“Don’t make me blush,” said Andrew.
“So, what does everybody think was the most important event of 2015?” Rose wanted to know. “What made it a good year?”
There was a moment of silence while everybody considered the question. Jackie was the first to speak.
“Finding out Brady and Amanda are going to have a baby,” she said. “That was the best thing that happened all year.”
“I’m pretty sure nobody’s going to argue with that,” said Andrew.
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Brady, tongue in cheek. “I thought the federal election was pretty important.”
“Good point,” said Alan. “Babies are born every day, but you only get a new government every five or 10 years. Ouch,” he added as Jennifer kicked his shin under the table. “I vote for the baby,” he corrected himself. “Just like I did in the election.”
“Good choice,” said Jennifer. “In both cases.”
“And we all know what’s going to be the most exciting thing that happens in 2016,” said Rose, “which is that Brady and Amanda are going to have a baby!”
“Wow,” said Brady putting his arm around his wife and giving her a squeeze. “We’re going to be the newsmakers of the year two years in a row.”
“It’s definitely not the first time you personally have managed that Brady,” said Randy.
“Yeah but this time it’s in a good way,” said Brady.
“That IS a change,” said Randy.
“On the other hand,” Amanda spoke up, “not to be a Debby Downer or anything, but 2016 could be a challenge for the world as a whole. The universe might be unfolding as it should for us but maybe that’s not the case for everybody.”
“Every year is a challenge, even for us,” said Andrew. “But you’re right, Amanda. Human beings will have some serious challenges to face in 2016. And beyond.”
“I’ve been thinking about that myself,” said Randy. “And I’ve been thinking that we should have a plan, as a family, as to what we are going to do to help make the future better rather than worse for our kids when they grow up.”
“Yes!” said Jennifer. “I agree! And I think we should start by talking about sustainable farming practices. Which we talk about a lot at university.”
“Now there’s a can of worms,” said Andrew, “that most people don’t want to open.”
“Yeah, but we’re not most people,” said Jennifer. “And we have Allison and Andy and he- who-has-not-yet-been-named to think about. I think we should make 2016 the year of figuring out how the Jackson family can make the world a better place for future generations.”
There was a moment of silence.
“All in favour say aye,” said Andrew. Again there was agreement around the table.
“Carried unanimously,” said Rose raising her glass. “Here’s to 2016!”