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In many different respects, 2008 was a challenging year for most. But on New Year’s Eve, we pause to remember the good things that happened during the past year. On this night, we forget our problems and cares, looking hopefully to the future. Precisely at midnight, we’ll be singing and toasting the arrival of 2009!

Hope you brought your family and good friends along, because the party is just getting underway. The champagne has been on ice all day and the waiters are popping the first bottles now. The hors d’ oeuvres will be served momentarily. Grab a few noisemakers and select a silly hat! The orchestra is tuning up and will begin playing in just a few minutes.

Welcome to the Just Write Blog Carnival, featuring a diverse and information-packed collection of articles about the various aspects of writing. Be sure to convey your appreciation to the participants by joining in the discussion at their respective sites and submitting their work to your favorite social networking groups. Enjoy!

“You haven’t heard a word I’ve said. Not one.” He sighed deeply, completely exasperated and exhausted.

“Yes, I have. I understand what you’re saying. I do,” she responded. “I told you — I agree with you. We’ve gotten into a rut. A lot of couples go through this after they have kids. We just need to work harder at being a couple — the way we used to be.”

She ran her fingers through his hair as she spoke. He did not reciprocate, sitting perfectly still, his expression a mixed of astonishment and bewilderment.

“We just need to try harder to carve out time for ourselves,” she continued as she tried to wrap her leg around his under the small square table at which they were seated in the window of the Barnes and Noble store.

“Why do you think I asked you to meet me here?” he asked quietly.

“So that we could get out of the house by ourselves for a while, of course,” she replied. “I think it was a great idea, too,” she gushed as she sipped her latte. “It’s nice to be here without the kids for a little while, sitting on the grown-up chairs and not having to read to someone else. We’re not in a hurry, right? You got Andrea to babysit for the whole evening, didn’t you? Because I would really like to pick up the new selection for Oprah’s book club. Margie says she has already read it and it’s wonderful. And then I was hoping we could have dinner and maybe later . . . ” her voice trailed off as she reached for his hand, but he pulled away, pretending to search for something in the pocket of his jacket.

The champagne is on ice, the hors d’ oeuvres will be ready to serve shortly, there are noisemakers, silly hats, and confetti for all the guests, and the orchestra is tuning up. Hear them?

You obviously received your invitation because here you are! And you’re wearing your most festive attire! Wonderful! The New Year’s festivities are getting underway!

Holiday Themes

From Dawn: So that was Christmas at Mama’s Coffee Break. Noisy toys, an ex, ex-in-laws . . . they’re enough to make Dawn glad Christmas only comes once a year!