SIKESTON - It's hard to say what the new year has in store and 2002 was definitely a year that was welcomed with a great deal of uncertainty.
Yet amid the fear of the unknown, many local residents say 2002 wasn't too bad after all.
For starters, Lynda Muench became an aunt for the first time.
"The birth of Robert Aaron on Oct. 13 was the highlight of the year, it was something we had anticipated for a long time," she said. "He's my first nephew and he's so cute!"
The best part of last year for Linda Melkersman was that Sikeston Missouri Arts (SMARTS) received its own home, located at 140 E. Front St.
"We couldn't have hoped for a better location," said a grateful Melkersman. "Thanks to Mr. (Don) Newton and the board members, we are up and running and providing art for our community."
And Dean Heuring certainly won't forget 2002. "There's no doubt that getting engaged to my girlfriend on Nov. 26 was the best part of the year," he said.
"This year is definitely better," Heuring said after a moment. "Everything fell into place with my fiancee, my job and my friends. Some years have been really rough and this year there have been a few bad experiences, but it could always be worse. It was a great year."
Heuring attributes part of his having such a good year to a few changes he made in himself, such as trying to have a better attitude.
"I tried to be a nicer, friendlier person," he said. "If you treat people the way you want to be treated (and I think I've done a better job of that this year) then they might do the same to you. Sometimes the small things, like 'thank you,' 'you're welcome' and 'hello' mean a lot to other people and yourself, too."
For some, the past few days were spent contemplating on resolutions to begin today such as the ever-popular diet promise, the vow to be a better person and the pledge to take better care of the family finances.
"The new year is a time of reflection on how things are going in one's life and changes that many need to be made," said Ron Steinmetz, director of Bootheel Counseling Services. "Many people fear change and therefore do not look forward to welcoming in a new year. Other simply believe that change is not possible for them and have a mind set that life cannot improve for better and this makes them feel very helpless. On the other hand, many do celebrate the new year because they know that it is a time to think about new possibilities and to forgive old hurts, mistakes or failures and this energizes them."
Melkersman said she will continue to do in 2003, what she started in 2002. "I have been lifting weights all year and that makes me feel better physically and mentally. I will continue with the same plan and try to do more aerobic activity for my heart."
"I think there is as much of that this year, it's always going to be there," Heuring said of the fear of terrorist attacks. "You would hope you would never have to worry about these things. But this day and age, that's just the way things are. It's sad to say, but that's just a fact."
Some feel a positive attitude is the best way to greet the new year, like Muench who says she takes one day at a time, enjoying every step of the way.
"Each year always gets better no matter what," chimed in Melkersman. "I am an optimist and look forward to each new day. There are too many things in life that I have not experienced and 2003 just gives me more time to sample.
"I am ready, full steam ahead," smiled Melkersman. "I love having the opportunity to learn more and teach my students different approaches in art. Possibilities for negativity and terrorism will always exist. Personally I try to accept whatever happens and use it to better myself, my school, my students and my family."
The possibility of more terrorist attacks and war, entering 2003 in debt or going through depression over a divorce are all weighing heavily on the minds of some individuals.
Steinmetz said the biggest concern people have going into the new year is the economy.
"Whether the national, state and local economy will improve to the point of allowing their investments to prosper better and allow them to keep their jobs and possibly upgrade themselves in the job market. Many people also are anxious about their health and whether or not they will be able to afford the medications they need and the health insurance, which is skyrocketing for many people. Other people find themselves very anxious about the various 'hot spots' around the world and are concerned that hostilities will accelerate."
We don't know what will happen during 2003, but some residents are sitting back making their own predictions, like Heuring who says he's excited and ready for the challenges ahead such as marriage and work.
He describes his prediction for terrorism to cease and the economy to bounce back. "You have a hope that your family and friends have a great year and a new start to the year," he added. "Sometimes it's not best to wish the best for yourself, because if good things happen to your friends and family, good things will come along to you, too."