It’s New Year’s Day and we’re ready to begin another roller-coaster ride for the next 365 days. So, as a good friend once commented, “Strap yourself in kitty cats, we’re going for a ride.”

We did our low-key celebrating last night over a quiet dinner with close friends Eden and Howard, we laughed about many of the bizarre things that happened in 2015, and we went home to try and stay awake long enough for the ball to drop.

We all spoke about 2016 with renewed hope for good health and happiness, anxious to dream new dreams and be more resolute in the new year about things that matter. We counted our blessings about our families and good friends and, of course, vowed to get together more often.

But as the door to 2016 quietly opened at midnight and we kissed, marking our 50th year as husband and wife and the happy New Year texts started coming from our two daughters, I couldn’t help but reflect with smiles and a lot of tears. At the beginning of each year, we both express hope that it’s going to be a good year, but realistically, we don’t have any idea what might lie ahead during the next 365 days.

Take the weather, for instance. Right now, El Nino has created one long Indian summer that gave us one of the warmest Christmases on record and some of the lowest gas and oil prices in many years. But we still have to go through about three months of winter weather and who knows if we’ll see an inch of snow.

I keep trying to forget that this is a presidential election year because I dread the primaries and caucuses, and just want to cut to the chase. I already know the direction I am heading in as far as finding the best candidate, but I shudder to think about the competition. I know it’s only January, but all too soon it will be summer and the conventions will be on us and suddenly it will be November and we’ll be choosing our next president. But who knows what will actually happen in the next 10-plus months?

As the new year begins, I have to return to my studies for the Praxis teaching exams and be more dedicated than ever to passing the exams and moving toward permanent teacher certification down the line. Last year, I tested the waters by taking the comprehensive examination and even going through a couple of interviews. This year I have to really decide if I am serious about teaching and move ahead actively.

I’m beginning 2016 in much better health than I was when I began 2015 and I am going to try to keep it that way. Unlike New Year’s Day 2015, when I was deathly ill with some flu or plague and down in Florida with my dad, who was recovering from surgery, this year I plan to stay as healthy as I can. Aside from a few aches and pains and my blood pressure and cholesterol conditions, I feel pretty fit for 71 and a half years old.

My wife and I share the same worry that 2016 may be even worse than 2015 in terms of wanton terrorist attacks. After seeing what happened in Paris and San Bernardino, we continue to wonder not if, but when and where terrorists will strike next. Our hearts have already ached for all the victims and we can only pray that our security will be strong enough to hold off any new attacks.

At the same time, we know that life is fragile and precious and we need to continue living to the fullest in the coming year as if each day may be our last. We shouldn’t have to change our lifestyles or live in fear of any attack.

We will continue to value each other and family more than ever in 2016. If my dad has set any kind of an example we need to look for opportunities to be with family, especially since ours is spread out so much, and treasure each year they are with us.

I guess we’ll have to take the rest of 2016 as it comes — the good, the bad and the ugly — and just be thankful that we have each other, our families and good friends. Those are the constants every year and with support and caring, we can get through anything.

We hope you have a wonderful year filled with all the best.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at