I'll have the other half of this post tomorrow, but actually, they're pretty much the same. Simply because the calendar says this is the last day of the year, it can prompt a looking back over the last 365 days.
I can easily find many ways to finish the sentence "2011 was the last time I..."
2011 was the last time I drove our Buick Rendezvous. (we traded it in for a new car).
2011 was the last time I had to clean our family room carpet. (we replaced it with a wood floor).
There are many other "last time" events that happened this year. What occurred to me, though, is that some of them won't be obvious for years. We didn't know in January we would be buying a new car, but after the Rendezvous went belly up in June, we did. So I could have marked on a calendar (I didn't) the last time I drove it.
Same with replacing the floors. It was something we had been planning for a while, so it was a major event that came and went without surprise. I knew the date and time the carpeting would be removed, so that morning I knew it would be the last time I would walk on it
At some point, though, I might realize that 2011 was the last time I talked to a friend before they died, or the last time I was to hold a cherished heirloom before it was lost in a fire, or the last time I could admire a pristine view before the bulldozers arrive. But I don't know that now.
So this New Year's Eve I'll be thinking about not only everything that's happened this past year. And I'll also be wondering what historic events have passed by. Final events that will only become apparent with the passing of the years.