Last New Year?s trip was a ?toss up?

I always enjoy writing this first-column-of-the-year column because I get to create a brand-new folder on my computer to save it in. Having the fresh, empty folder reminds me of all the possibilities the new year holds, all of the joy it may bring and all of the opportunity there will be for improvement.

There isn?t a long list of resolutions for me this year, though. Last year was pretty good already, getting married and all.

But first and foremost on my list of resolutions is this: No more telling my mother-in-law to shut up.

Last year didn?t start off so well in this area, as it only took until Jan. 2 for me to commit this act against my then-fianc?e?s mom. However, it?s not as bad it sounds, nor does it have as much to do with me being disrespectful as it does with me tossing my cookies at the worst possible moment.

Some background:

I should start, of course, by saying that I married into an amazing family that even laughs at my corny humor most of the time?theirs is a little rye, I might add?and that I also have the best mother-in-law I could ever have asked for.

Since wife Hanna?s first nephew was born on New Year?s Day in Colorado two years ago, it is quickly becoming tradition for the family to venture past the Rockies at this time to celebrate his birthday. And last year I got to tag along on this journey.

It was an enjoyable trip, and all went smoothly until the drive back to Kansas.

I had been feeling a twang in my stomach all day, but having just come away from a week-long Christmas junk food extravaganza, I assumed it was something as insignificant as an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese or a fragment of underdone potato.

But there definitely was something more grave than gravy about it, and we were about to have a dickens of a car ride home.

It was cloudy and getting dark as we were driving near the summit of the Vail Pass up in the Rocky Mountains. I was sitting in the front seat, and Hanna?s mom was driving and in the process of answering a question I had asked her at a much lower altitude.

But then I felt it: that sudden sense of awareness that something deep in my gut just went from ache to action. I knew that if I was going to avoid tasting the rainbow, I was going to have to concentrate very hard on keep the gold coins in the pot.

Acting solely on instinct, I said the worst possible thing that a future son-in-law could say to his future mother-in-law.

?Could you,? I stammered, ?just be quiet??

Unfortunately, the stunned silence in the car wasn?t enough to prevent the defiance of gravity.

?Never mind. Just pull over.?

I am eternally indebted to Hanna?s mom for the incredibly swift driving maneuvers she made at the top of a mountain on packed ice and snow.

The car skidded into the truck lane on the right just in time for me open the door and enact a verb that makes it necessary to employ colorful euphemisms so as not to use the word ?barf? in this column.

We bunked in Denver that night, and somehow I managed enough strength to write a column welcoming in the new year.

And, incidentally, I am now sitting at the same hotel doing the exact same thing.

Except this year the car ride over the mountains was uneventful, although we did pause near the summit on this anniversary to commemorate the spot where I jettisoned the cargo.

And as far this, my New Year?s resolution, goes: So far, so good.

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