The Coast News Group

Northbound: Wow, what a year to reflect on

We’ve witnessed some extraordinary changes and events in 2016. A tumultuous presidential election roiled across the country.

Countless artists, world leaders and peacemakers were laid to rest. Tragedy struck across the globe, and yet, we saw moments that gave us hope, and renewed our belief in the promise of a brighter future for all.

In North County, it was a year of ups and downs.

Measure A divided neighbors in Carlsbad.

The smashing debut of the North County Battalion brought us together as one in the stands. New business openings and community events excited us, and reminded us of how special our part of the region is.

Christmas is a time of joy with loved ones, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to lose perspective and get lost in the frustration and despair of this year, which, from what I’ve gathered from friends, is fairly widespread.

Instead, I’d like to remember the great times I had with my family during Christmas.

I have an extraordinary long-term memory, which probably compensates for my cruddy short-term memory.

I can still remember the twinkle of colorful Christmas lights that decorated our tree. The smell of a real tree, and all the ridiculous pine needles it would shed each day. Having to wait patiently to see what Santa would bring my sister and I on Christmas morning.

Later, we would join my extended family at my grandmother’s house for Christmas dinner, which was only a short drive from our house.

I remember my grandmother, mother and aunts would all be in aprons, cooking up a storm as the uncles talked and the cousins played. That large, drafty house would give way to extra helpings of holiday cheer and warm dishes.

I remember wishing days like those would extend on forever. Our family was blessed by God. It still is.

For all the traditions and memories we have, they don’t lock us into one way of celebrating the holidays with our loved ones. In fact, this is the first year my parents won’t be joining my sister and I for Christmas.

The announcement came as something of a shock to us — and my parents didn’t do much to soften the blow when they told us. They’re in the middle of a home renovation, and a week of Christmas vacation with us would be too disruptive to their tight timeline.

I don’t fault my parents — they got to take care of business, and my sister and I will do quite fine by ourselves. I’m sure we will do a Christmas FaceTime session together, just in time for my three adorable nieces to open up their Christmas gifts in the morning.

This Christmas Day, I’ll be near a fire in North County with family. Where will you be? Wherever it is, I hope you’ll honor those timeworn traditions and create new memories too. Merry Christmas!

Vince Vasquez is an economist based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.