For some reason, we experience some type of chaotic event around this time every year of which I am just too exhausted to recount at the moment. As we celebrate each new year, we have a little tradition that we started. Each member of our family writes a letter to themselves a year from now, e.g. “Dear Me on Dec. 31, 2010.” We write about who we are at the moment, all our likes and dislikes, and what we hope to do this year. We then read our letter that we wrote last New Year’s Eve, e.g. “Dear Me on Dec 31, 2009.” This is fun to see how we have changed (or haven’t changed) and the kids also trace their hands on the back and they love to lay their hand down to see how much they’ve grown. #1 and #3 are basically still the same – sporty and dramatically inclined respectively. But how #2 and #4 have changed. Last year #2 was still into sparkly headbands and dresses whereas now her favourite outfit has become jogging pants and a hoodie with Converse shoes. #4 was a baby last year, barely putting together sentences, and now, she has definite preferences:
Me: “What do you love right now?”
#4: “Mama, Dada, and baby.”
Me: “What about your sisters?”
#4: “No. I don’t like them.”
Last year I wrote the letters for #3 and #4 and this year, #3 is perfectly capable of writing her own (with a little help). These letters are a great way for you to reflect on the past year and are a way to track how your kids are growing into themselves.
On New Year’s Eve, we also came up with our favourite moments of the year as a family, and individually. There were lots of hellos and goodbyes in 2009. It was a huge year in our household and last year at this time, we would have never have guessed that our lives would be this different.
Here is my own TOP TEN Moments of 2009:
- Hello #5. We welcomed our boy. Hello family of 7. Goodbye family of 6 with dad heavily outnumbered (now he is just moderately outnumbered).
- The ankle incident.
- A Summer to Remember. Swimming lessons at my mom’s house. Marineland with cousins and uncles and aunts. Family memories by the pool. Science week. Art week. #4 jumping in the pool with just water wings. Savouring every moment with the kids before September.
- Hello new schools. Goodbye old schools. I have had to watch my eldest daughter start middle school and slowly let go as she maneuvers her way through a social sphere complete with dances, lockers, and cafeteria food. I have also had to persevere through a tough transition with #2 as she began her journey in grade one at a new school – her fourth new school in four years. I’ve said goodbye to #3 as she has wholeheartedly and enthusiastically embraced school leaving me each afternoon with a wink and a “See you later, alligator.”
- A Guilt-filled trip to Disney WITHOUT the kids. Early in the year, before the ankle incident, Ever-patient and I went to Orlando for our first trip away together since 2001, leaving the girls behind to cope with blizzards and wind chill. Ever-Patient had a business conference and I enjoyed time alone. I actually read books, ate meals in solitude, and did everything on a self-imposed schedule. We even went on a backstage tour of Disney to see how the place ran seamlessly. I couldn’t even look at Mickey Mouse without feeling like I was cheating on the kids.
- Goodbye to my neighbour. My grandfather gave up his apartment which was just around the corner from us. This was an apartment that he lived in for over 22 years, and many of those years was with my grandmother. It’s difficult to pass by there still and know that he is not there watching “Jeopardy” in his boxers or sitting at the dining table planning his horse-racing bets for the week. It was hard saying goodbye to a place where I would frequently stop by for afternoon snack where he would make me tea and toast with butter or where I spent a lot of summers in my childhood.
- Goodbye to Urban Scrapyard.
- Hello Family Mission Statement. “Live simply. Live healthy. Celebrate relationships. Learn continuously.” Creating this mission statement has allowed us to make decisions quickly and has helped remind us of what we value and how we want to live our life. We have set life goals using this mission statement and it has also helped us cope with many challenges we have faced this year.
- Hello Blog. This blog has been many things to me: a place to document, a place to vent, a place to share ideas and thoughts, a place to keep in touch with family and friends, a sanctuary, a love letter to my children and my husband, a source of inspiration for some, and most importantly, a way for me to tell my stories.
- Pancrea-what?? We closed out the year with a hospital stay and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
My word for 2009 was “RELEASE.” At the beginning of the year, I promised to let go. Let go of unrealistic expectations, of sweating the small stuff, of accepting what is and letting everything unfold the way it was supposed to unfold. It has been one of the most eventful and life-changing years I have experienced. Everything that has happened this year has forced me to focus all my energy on remembering this word release. Every obstacle or unexpected occurrence was met with surrender. On many occasions, when I thought I couldn’t handle any more, I simply surrendered and immersed myself in that particular moment – feeling the exhaustion or the pain or the anger or the shock or the frustration with every ounce of my being. Not fighting it, just letting myself be “in” it. I look back at this year and am grateful for it all.
2010 has already started off with a bang with more trips to the emergency room and the doctor’s office but we’re all still hanging in there with a smile no less.
My word for this year is “SIMPLIFY.”
Goodbye 2009. Hello 2010.