The first day of the year has dawned and we are taking down our tree, sweeping up pine needles and the boys are taking especial pleasure in laying the gingerbread bridge to rest.
Goals and resolutions will come tomorrow, but today, as we are packing away beloved nativities and ornaments we wonder how our life will be changed when we take them out of the boxes next December.
We all make plans for the year, and 2012 was filled with wonderful things we knew would happen– Mary’s baptism, trips to Lake Powell and San Diego, Hans turning sixteen– but we want to focus on the surprises, delights and adventures we had no inkling of when 2012 dawned. Bad surprises are NOT allowed on the list; we’re choosing to forget those.
So in no particular order, the top twelve surprises of 2012:
1. Mary kept her room clean the entire year. Truly, her room was a disaster until sometime last January, she set everything in order and kept it that way. Bliss. Maybe it’s Lisa’s magical pink quilt?
2. LONDON! Never have we traveled so far, with such spontaneity. The adventure of a lifetime and completely unplanned.
3. Stefan’s call to crazy cold winters in Yekaterinburg, Russia. I promise you this one minute video is worth your time. In fact, you’ll probably watch it at least twice.
4. Two of our favorite novels coming to the big screen: The Hobbit and Les Miserables.
If you’ve seen the movies but haven’t read the books, repent! and get reading (or listening, two of the best audio books I’ve ever listened to)! You can read an abridged Les Miserables, but get the unabridged for the first 70 and last 50 pages.
Stefan’s favorite quote from The Hobbit (movie version):
Gandalf: “Saraman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love.”
And Gabe’s favorite from Les Miserables (the book):
The bishop: “Why would I have to know your name? Besides, before you told me, I knew it.”
The man opened his eyes in surprise, “Really, you knew my name?”
“Yes,” answered the bishop, “your name is my brother.”
5. My darling niece Lizzy and her dad Bill (Ruth’s husband) visited Ben in Torino, Italy. They were kind enough to plan their entire European adventure around seeing Ben. Hmm, I wonder if they’ll visit Stefan too?
6. Not only did Gabe join the swim team, he actually loves the workouts, the friends and his newfound muscles. Just don’t talk to him about competing; he doesn’t even want to think about racing against someone else.
7. Every photoshoot changes my life in some way, but especially the weddings. Witnessing a couple truly meant to be together with loving families celebrating on both sides is akin to watching the birth of a star.
Ah, if only I had time to do more.
8. Surprise visits from my brother Dan (NY, NY) and my friend Tracy (Minn, Minn). Love love and more love.
9. After years of entering the lottery for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert, we received four beautiful tickets in the mail (all tickets are free, but nearly two million people vie for 88,000 seats). Oh. It was so magical, beautiful, inspiring. Be sure to watch the PBS rebroadcast next year. After Erik, Stefan, Hans and I raved over the concert, I spent the next night and morning in the standby line with Gabe and Mary. To our great joy, made it in on Sunday morning.
10. I hope it’s not bragging too much to mention Stefan’s Presidential Scholarship to BYU, but even better, he landed with the most fantastic roommates he could ever wish for– they go to bed early, they laugh a lot, they all love hiking and live their religion with small, everyday acts of kindness.
11. Now the boys are arguing over Trader Joe’s for number eleven or movie making. Let’s just say both the video camera and Trader Joe’s opening in Salt Lake City enriched our life this year.
A nineteen second Xandervideo never before shared on the blog.
12. New friends are the best surprises of the year. People who inspire us, cheer us on and show us a way of life we hadn’t imagined. So many wonderful people came into our lives this year (and I hate to leave anyone out) but one deserves special mention:
An email titled “Greetings from Hungary” opened our friendship with beautiful, wonderfulNoémi Kereki from Budapest, a twenty-one year old future restaurateur who stumbled on our blog when I wrote for a French travel site.
She wanted to know more about our faith and we’ve had a glorious time writing back and forth. Every one of her letters gives me happy chills.
And she taught me something valuable:
Noémi likes us just as we are; we don’t have to pretend to be anything other than our real selves to bring amazing people like her into our lives. I’m always questioning the public blog; who really wants to read about us? (except my sister who claims she’d never read it if I changed to private) I’ve never sought to be a popular blogger and I often forget anyone reads this at all. Some of the things I thought might be unwise to share (like family struggles) are what drew her to me. I’m so grateful for Noémi and others who encourage me to keep writing, sharing more than I sometimes think I should, taking photos and to simply be myself– but maybe this year, just a tiny bit better.
Happy New Year to all! May your year be filled with adventures and sweet surprises!