On the CounterClckWise calendar, Yule is the holiday that marks the turn from one sun cycle to another, which we generally use as an excuse to hang out with the extended family, drink, and watch football. But it's also an end to one year and the beginning of another, so I can't help but reflect on the recent past and coming future and the import of it all.

It was a really hard year for me in some ways, but in other ways it was maybe the best year of my life. My health has been pretty poor, but not as poor as the year before. I suffered some terrible bad beats in my situation, but I survived. I learned to be a little tougher. It was a year of gaining clarity.

The best things that came out of this year were in my relationships with my friends and family. I was stunned to see the love and caring that came my way from so many people. It was a little overwhelming at times, even. I'm especially grateful to have gotten to know my Dad and Mom in Bozeman so much better. I love them both very much and I'm so proud to be a part of their family.

It seems a little silly to me that I needed to face death to stop worrying about trivia and to see that the most important things were right in front of me all the time -- the people I love. Maybe I didn't exactly neglect them before, but I certainly didn't pay attention the way I do now.

So on this semi-drunken Yule, I'm grateful to Fortuna for giving me the chance to see things from this perspective, that my friends are all doing pretty well, and that my family is closer than ever. I can't predict the future, but I think the things that happened this year will be the foundation for a phenomenal 2009. It is good to be alive.

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. -- Marcus Aurelius