Phew! What a ride 2021 has been. I really feel like wiping my brow, pouring a glass of wine and celebrating the fact that it's nearly over.
However, in this last column of the year, I'm going to reflect on the positive things that have happened and look forward to 2022 (I'll explain the photo a bit later).
A baby and a wedding — you can't beat that for highlights of the year. A beautiful baby girl named Alaska, quite appropriate, really, because she might as well be in Alaska.
Actually, I might have more of a chance of visiting Alaska in Alaska than I have of visiting her in Australia, the way things are heading — oops, be quiet Negative Nelly.
Alaska is almost nine months old and just delightful. I have had smiles on Facetime but I can't wait to get my hands on her. According to her mother, she is very shy and won't even go to her aunty.
I'm sure she'll come straight to me — I have a good plan that usually works with little children. Leave them in their mother's arms, talk a lot and smile a lot. She will recognise my voice and I'll just leave her be until I can't stand it anymore, grab her, kiss and cuddle her while she either looks at me in horror, screams for her mother or, my ideal outcome, smiles at me.
I really hope I can get on a plane and visit her and all my Aussie family before she turns one at the end of March next year. I miss them. I know I'm not the only one missing family and friends all around the world — don't let that Negative Nelly back.
Let's remember the wedding — it was such a brilliant weekend. Everyone was well and truly ready for a celebration and a party.
It had been a long time coming and everyone certainly let their hair down and enjoyed themselves.
This year I've also spent lots of time laughing with the school girls. We've had some great days out, excellent food and lots of fun. I'm looking forward to our 2022 adventures.
Another huge highlight of 2021 has been spending time with my grandchildren. I have three granddaughters in Hawke's Bay and a grandson - they are aged between eight and 11.
They make me laugh all the time. I hear all sorts of stories about my son from his daughters. He loves to say "come on you Hall girls, let's haul on out of here".
My oldest granddaughter (in New Zealand), who is 11, gave me the quote of the year on Saturday when we were shopping for clothes for her.
I held out this really pretty dress and said "what about this?" Her reply "No. What if I want to do a cartwheel?"
How true, I'd forgotten about the cartwheel and handstand urge. Probably because I haven't done a cartwheel for a very long time but I immediately saw her point. Cartwheels are important and spontaneous so one must always be dressed appropriately in case the cartwheel thought pops into one's head.
After I have had a couple of wines sometimes the cartwheel idea pops into my head. Luckily the visions of falling flat on my face are stronger than the cartwheel idea.
Finally, I'm going to finish for the year with my grandson, he's nine. I was looking after him recently and he said: "I need to go to the toilet". We were at his home so I said "okay, off you go". I did wonder why he was telling me.
Two minutes later he came running out and said "Nan, I went to the toilet and now it's smoking". I thought 'oh, my goodness what's happened?' as I ran to the bathroom. The photo above is what I found.
I laughed and laughed. I hope you have lots of opportunities to laugh and laugh over the festive season.
Who knows what 2022 will bring — we will all cross that bridge when we come to it, just as we have for the past two very strange years.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a fun and happy New Year.