Now that the big guy in red has made his annual flight around the world handing out presents, it is time to move on to a bright and shiny new year.

For me, this is a reason to celebrate. To say I didn’t have a great 2017 is an understatement, but considering the floods and hurricanes and other major disasters that befell so many, I hardly own any real estate in the land of the awful years.

Still I am looking forward to saying so long to 2017. And I am looking very forward to 2018. I was reading a lot about the new year over the Christmas holidays. It seems I am not alone in my desire to scrub my house clean and get it ready for the new year. That is a ritual practiced in many cultures.

I never knew that it was a ritual practiced in many cultures, but I have always felt the urge to clean up after Christmas. Whether I was in the mood to put away the tree and decorations or just organize everything varied from year to year. This year, I feel a major cleaning coming on. I even feel the need to maybe downsize some of the decorations from years past so that they fit better when stored.

Luckily, I will be off for several days in a row right about then, so I might actually have the time to follow up on that desire.

Cleaning a house is much easier than calming a restless mind or heart, but I find that one generally follows the other. So I will start by getting rid of the cobwebs and dust bunnies and then move on to the harder stuff.

I hope whatever you plan for New Year’s that you make some provision for staying safe. If you go out and party, please pick a designated driver and be sweet to that person. Feed them well and don’t make them feel like a tag-a-long since your very life could depend upon how well they do their jobs.

Happy birthday to Jeanine Sewell, Legend Jackson, Ann Coulter and Alvin Jones Jr., all of Denison; Eric Sims, Alicia Cain and Mary Fields, all of Sherman; and Easton Neal of Bells.

Happy anniversary to Charles and Clara Freeman of Pottsboro, 66 years.