For about 15 years, I wrote an annual Christmas letter. I stopped last year, but it's still a time I like to reflect, and I have been.
A year. 365 days. 525,600 minutes. What shaped them? What really mattered to us?
Our days, weeks, and months are pretty full. But these five things came to me clearly as the highlights, milestones, changes, and challenges that shaped our 2015.
1. Mitch and I visited Yosemite / Kings Canyon / Sequoia National Parks.
The first book we bought as a young married couple was a book on National Parks. I had dreamed of visiting Yosemite ever since.
Yosemite was just one of the highlights on our 2015 adventure. Mitch especially appreciated the Giant Sequoias. We cruised down Big Sur, where we spotted gray whales swimming below us from a cliff. We saw (smelled, and heard) the Piedras Blancas elephant seals near San Simeon. These were fantastic experiences to add to our life's collection.
2. Wookie joined our family.
8 months old, she's currently on her first pheasant hunting trip. Those of us who stayed home feel like home is a little incomplete without her. A certain 8 year old boy can't wait to hug her when she gets back. Wookie has left her paw print on our 2015,
and no doubt, our lives from here on out. The level of adoration for her in
this family is through the roof. So is her character.
3. Mason and Eric are in their senior year. We gained adult children.
Since their 18th birthday, I've been asked a lot
what it's like to have adult kids. For now it's the same. They go to school and basketball practice, haul firewood, help out, and make it home by their same old curfew. But
times are changing for our family. I felt it Christmas morning, as I did throughout the year, the value of the here and now in 2015. It mattered a great deal to me to focus on our family of seven before these two are off to take on their future.
(They've both zeroed in on pursuing
education in the electrical field after high school.)
4. Doing what's best for each of our kids involved changes this year.
They've been kind of big, sometimes challenging, and a little scary. But we did it. And we're so glad!
(11) marched into a new school with ten times as many kids in her grade
as her old one.. with a sureness I was in awe and admiration of. She
is so happy. I am so happy for her.
She ran her first 5k and
played in her first band performance (alto sax). Those six graders and
their instructor knocked my socks off.
What I wanted most for my daughter was that she be able to soar confidently in her own sky, whatever that may be. - Helen Claes
Beau and Johnathan are attending 3rd and 7th grades right here at home, with me as their primary educator. It's challenging, but I respect the academy and curriculum they're a part of, and I'm amazed at all we're learning and accomplishing together. We're being rewarded with the sure knowledge that they're learning, gaining, and happy.
We like being happy around here.
Bonus: While they're learning better than ever, they're also getting to spend much more time outdoors. We like fresh air, too!
(Johnathan, 13, has grown over 5 inches this year.)
5. Every year has its ups and downs.
A challenge for us this year was worrying about the health of one of our kids. Beau had episodes of fainting / severe drops in blood pressure throughout 2015. We don't know what's caused this, but he had a boatload of tests and procedures that all let us know (after first putting me through the wringer) that Beau's heart is strong and healthy, and all is well inside his thinking cap. What have we gained from this? Beau has kept my focus pretty sharp on what matters. I'm an extremely thankful mom as we wrap up 2015.
"I think this is how we're supposed to be in the world - present and in awe." - Ann Lamott
I started writing this New Year's Eve. It's now well past midnight.
Peace, Love, and Happy 2016!