This past year turned out to be a year marked and paced by the political process, beginning with hotly contested primaries, two emotional conventions, three cliffhanger debates, and now, the aftermath of the election and a lame duck Congress. Once again, the United States has proven a shining example to the world of how the democratic process works, even in a sharply divided nation. Over the last eleven months financial markets have had to contend with the infamous Facebook IPO, weather-related market closings, the East Coast economy savaged by Superstorm Sandy, the Fed’s “Operation Twist” and “QE3,” multiple flareups of the European debt crisis, and a generational changeover of leadership in China. We reveled in a strong market rally from January until May, suffered through a summer slump, saw gains return through the end of October, only to retreat in November. The real estate market, so far a no show in the recovery, finally began to show signs of life. 2012 has been in turn a challenging, maddening, frustrating deflating, turbulent and triumphant year. Now, with 2013 just over the horizon, here are a few things to prepare for, and some things to attend to, before the year ends.