Friday, December 23, 2011

What a year

What a great year we’ve had. Only I didn’t fully realize it until it was almost over.

A few days ago, I woke up thinking that before January arrived, I’d need to take time to list all the significant events of 2011. This thought process always begins when I sit down in mid-December to write our yearly end-of-year Christmas card poem. I limit it to twelve stanzas, and the first and last are usually dedicated to the very general themes of introduction and conclusion, so that leaves me with ten stanzas for specific events. Needless to say, that’s never quite enough.

So maybe that’s why I woke with a list already scrolling through my mind like the crawler at the bottom of a TV screen. Once I started consciously focusing on it, I realized how many good things happened this year.

We met the wonderful people who ended up moving into our old house. Leaving our home on the farm was easier knowing how happy they were to be there. And they’re making fine use of their new setting, too: within six months of moving in, they’d acquired two cows.

We had amazing luck in finding a rental house elsewhere in town. We were lucky to find a rental house at all, not to mention such a comfortable and spacious one. But the fact that it’s on the edge of a state park with instant access to miles of hiking trails makes the deal seem almost miraculous.

We survived the move. Moving is never easy, and just thinking about those last few days of packing gives me a headache. But we did it. And fortunately, our buyers proved themselves to be the kind of people willing to call us any time they found something we’d accidentally left behind, and the less said about that the better, but let’s just say we’re lucky they’re so honest and ethical.

We had some wonderful getaways: weekends in Maine with friends, an overnight for the four of us in Boston, our summer trip to New York and Pennsylvania. And thanks to my thoughtful parents, I was even able to attend the summer writers’ conference in Colorado, where Mom and I had a joyful week together. One of my favorite snapshots of the year is the one of my mother, her two sisters and me dressed up for a dinner out together during the Colorado week.

We stayed healthy and safe. No accidents, no serious illnesses: not for ourselves nor anyone else in our close family. Those infrastructural problems that inevitably occur in the course of a year – extensive treefall, for example, following October’s snowstorm – could be easily fixed.

I received lots of great writing assignments. I wrote about a producer for This American Life, an ice cream entrepreneur, a child with muscular dystrophy who participated in his first half-marathon, an extended family who has maintained a family newsletter for the past twenty years. And, needless to say, I wrote plenty about the follies and foibles of my own spouse and children, as I always do. Rick stayed gainfully employed as well.

We had a couple of visits from Sarah’s family and a couple of visits from Lauren’s family. We hosted Thanksgiving dinner, a holiday cookie exchange, and a get-together for a far-flung group of my old high school friends. I spent an entire fall afternoon walking on a Maine beach with my college roommate, and I had brunch with a friend from Los Angeles whom I hadn't seen in 19 years. A dear friend from high school who now lives in the Bay area kept me company one morning while I cooked for the upcoming weekend.

And that’s only the beginning. I avoided missing any days of running, keeping the streak intact into its fourth year. Holly and Tim are doing well in school and enjoy strong social relationships. Even the dog has had a happy, healthy year.

It’s far too much for a Christmas card. I’ll have to write my own list of the highlights of 2011, not to try to rhyme it or be funny or clever or interesting but just so that I never forget what a great year it was. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. Commemorating it is the best I can do to pay it tribute. And so I will.

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