Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dear Gifts of 2012

Dear Gifts of 2012,

Just a few short days ago, you filled the space underneath our beautiful Christmas tree.  Now that the sound of paper tearing and the staccato gasps of surprise and joy have come and gone, so are the decorated boxes and bags that once teased and excited our hearts.  As such, the barren space under the tree prompted me to think about blessings in the form of Gifts that cannot be wrapped and placed under a tree.  Here is my #TopTen list of My Best Gifts of 2012.

10. The Gift of Favorite Blogs and Writers.  2012 is the year that I made real connections with a number of bloggers--some I am proud to consider as "blogging friends."  These wonderful people whose words and photographs I read, reread, and cherish became a real part of my life.  There are also some blogs that I follow religiously but quietly, and I am still grateful to be able to admire their contents from afar.  I thank each and every one of them for allowing me to enjoy their work and learn from them.  #BlogosphereRevere

9. The Gift of Teaching.  After ten years of raising my own children, it's time to return to my old profession of teaching our children.  This is the year I am making my way back into schools, first as a Chinese School Toddler Class teacher, and more recently, as a substitute in our school district.  It's my calling, and I know it with every bone in my body.  Once a teacher, always a #LifeLongLearner.

8. The Gift of Writing.  Boy, did I write this year!  Ninety-three posts here on Letters, to be exact (not counting the seventy-nine posts over at Promptly I Write).  Many of these letters are just my own everyday musings of life as a mom, a wife, and an individual.  But a few posts this year bled from my heart.  A few of my favorites of 2012 are: Dear Field of Dreams (where I realized my dreams have come true on the real Field of Dreams in Iowa, better known as Heaven), Dear Bride-to-Be (where I wrote a letter to myself on the day of my wedding sixteen years ago), and Dear Labor and Delivery (where I witnessed the birth of my Dear Niece2--a life-changing experience that I will always hold dear to my heart).  To be able to memorialize such important events and feelings in words is a process I cannot take for granted.  #LifeLongPassion

7. The Gift of Reading.  This year, we officially have four readers in our family.  Dear Son has joined the Independently Reading Club.  We found out he's reading one day when he casually read off the computer screen as we looked at a toy he wanted: "promotion period ends [date]" and "batteries not included."  I was quite surprised at his reading ability that he so artfully hid from us when his kindergarten teacher told us his reading level.  I guess we cannot talk to each other by spelling words anymore.  #s-n-e-a-k-y

Duct tape flower
6. The Gift of Crafting/Baking.  I've always been into crafts and baking, and it seems as if Miss Mini-Me has developed a liking for them as well.  This year, Dear Daughter has gotten into such things as origami, duct tape art, baking sweets, and most recently, making cake pops and--hold on to your seats--knitting.  We've had fun doing all of them together, but I've also made the realization that teaching someone to knit is harder than growing money on a tree.  Because I have to grow buckets of Patience just for her to complete one row.  The upside of this knitting mentoring is that I know DD did not inherit my perfectionist gene, which, in the long run, is a good thing.  #OMGYouDroppedAStitch

5. The Gift of Technology.  After 5 whole generations, we have finally boarded the iPhone Train.  Better late than never.  The kiddos also got acquainted with some iThing or Another from under that tree up there, and iMessage became the hottest thing in Our Residence.  Texts and photos and requests and questions and answers have been exchanged, all under one roof and within feet of one another.  But the best part?  With DS' limited spelling capability, the rest of us received about eleventy hundred "I love yous" from him.  #iSweetHeart

4. The Gift of Profound Entertainment.  On Christmas Day, we went to see the movie Les Miserables in the theater.  Having been a life-long lover of the Broadway musical, this was like sipping a top-notch aged red wine, but better.  The music and lyrics alone made me weep like a baby, and the awesomeness of the actors just made the experience all the more exuberant.  I know that having twenty more years of life experience since the first time I watched it on stage made this viewing that much more meaningful for me.  #IDreamedADream

Packed for a sleepover
3. The Gift of Surviving Parenthood.  This year month marks DD's first-ever attempt at a slumber party at her friend's house.  And I survived it.  It was a birthday party that involved a trip to the outdoors that ended with a sleepover.  There were plenty of things for me to worry about, but it was a success.  Dear Husband claimed that he enjoyed the peaceful sound of silence in her absence, but we all really missed her, especially DS.  #WhenIsSheComingHome

2. The Gift of Readers/Followers.  OMGoodness, I actually have followers on this blog.  Sometimes I cannot believe it myself.  I would call it a small following, but I appreciate anyone who would want to read what silly things I have to say.  Recently, two of my friends actually told me personally that they read every single one of my posts.  I think those two statements--aside from the obvious health and happiness of my family--were the grandest gifts I received this holiday season.  I am pretty sure that they were not aware of how grateful I was of their sentiments.  #ThankYouSoSoMuch

1. The Gift of the Year.  As of this year, I am utterly and completely free from public restroom duties!  (Picture me doing the Happy Dance a la Monica Geller--I have no shame.)  Since five-year-old boys don't like to go into women's restrooms anymore, I can always eat my meals in peace, browse a store in serenity, and let DH deal with those splendid potty emergencies.  #SmilingFromEarToEar

So, Dear Gifts of 2012, since you were not visible under the tree, I felt the need to point you out and take a moment to count my blessings.  And by the looks of this list, I am truly very blessed. 

(What gifts did 2012 bring you?)



  1. This is an awesome list. And I'm sorry I haven't been around as much but these past few weeks have been an exercise in patience and time management with the holidays and all. I am getting some reading done this morning but more work is calling my name... I'm ignoring it for right now!!! These are truly amazing "gifts", especially that last one!!! ;)Happy New Year!

    1. Hi, Susi! Please don't apologize--I am grateful that you visit and read at all during this busy time of year! While we feel less stressed about the kiddos' school on break, there's a million other things we have to do in place of that break plus some!

      I hope that you get some time to unwind before school starts again. Now that the holiday gatherings are mostly over, we mamas should pamper ourselves a bit more. Happy birthday celebration to your son!! And I wish you a peaceful and happy new year! Thank you for being such a great bloggy friend!

  2. I like your 'gifts' list, Sandra. I'm not sure why you're so surprised you have readers/followers. Your muse letters are awesome! I hadn't thought about it, but I can relate to the end of public restroom duty, too. My younger son is almost 7, so I relinquished that a couple years ago. Still thankful :)

    Oh, I had to laugh at the spelling thing. Just a couple weeks ago, hubby asked if we should go to the p-a-r-k. I gave him the 'why are you bothering to spell it' look, but by that time, both kids were jumping up and down hollering about going to the park!

    I hope you have a safe and happy new year and may your family be blessed in 2013.

    1. Janna, you are so kind to say that about this blog. (I blush!) I guess I am just grateful for peeps who like to read what I write.

      As for the restroom duty, my goal this next year is to be free of it--public or at home--for good! I hope to see that on next year's list! :) I gotta say, P-A-R-K is innocuous; I just had someone spell D-I-E-S to me the other day, and you shoulda seen my expression (um, stop right there!) We have to watch what we say for good from now on.

      Thank you for stopping in to read and comment on my posts, Janna. I really appreciate your feedback. I wish health and happiness to you and your family in 2013--Happy New Year!

  3. Wonderful list, Sandra. I am so grateful for meeting you this year - you've brought lots of wonderful musings to me and I love thinking and talking about these topics. I am grateful this year for my family. My immediate fam - husband and kids - well, it's been amazing seeing them grow and having my marriage become stronger through some difficult times. My in-laws, who have been there for us constantly, helping, supporting and loving. My family coming back together - we have had a rough few years, lots of fighting and hurt feelings. This Christmas was the first time we were all together and it was like a dream. The love was always there but hurt made things tense. Our Christmas celebration this year was the first in many years where the love was flowing, the appreciation for each other was apparent and the genuine gratefulness for having each other was overflowing. For that, I am most thankful.

    1. I am so glad to read this comment, Cindy. Family is the foundation of our beings, and that you found overflowing love after hard times is truly the best gift! Immediate family relationships are even more relevant in our day-to-day lives. We nurture a marriage just like we care for our children, and it's what we do--as women and mommies. I hope you continue on this path of positive reconnection with your family as well as growth and happiness in your immediate family in the new year!

      And I am grateful to have met you, too, Cindy. Because of you, every time I do something short of being perfect, I think of your voice telling me that it is okay and the world is still good--which is monumental inside my head with little space for imperfection. I'm growing in that department with much credit to you! Finally, I always appreciate your readership and feedback on my musings. And for that, I am very thankful.

      Happy 2013!

  4. Love it, "gifts that can't be wrapped". (10) it's great to have a good read every day, I agree! (9) good luck on the journey back into teaching! (8) good job on writing so much in both blogs, no small feat to keep up with 2 (7) and yay for a house full of readers! That DS must be a sharp boy! LOL no more spelling (6) that's awesome you and DD can enjoy crafts together. LOL that she's not as perfectionist as you and #OMGYouDroppedAStitch (5) awwwwwwww (4) I want to see Les Mis (3) I'm sure you more than just survived, you thrived as a parent this year! (2) and yay for followers, no matter the number! Just good to know ppl read your stuff and care! (1) and hurrah for no more public restroom duties! Why didn't DH take over sooner ;). We are starting potty training in 2013. Wish us luck. I'm really scared about it.

    1. Lisa, thanks for your "list" of feedback! Please do go see Les Mis; it's so awesome I can't even tell you. Why didn't DH take over sooner? Because DS always wanted me to take him. Now he asks daddy--yay! Oh, potty training. GOOD LUCK! I have some horrific stories to tell regarding accidents and messes, but it's probably TMI. So, all I can say is, be patient, and PREPARE YOURSELVES! (I'm sure J will be fine--it's usually just a matter of time. When they're ready, they're ready!) Happy New Year to you, and thank you for reading and all your comments!! So glad I met you this year!

  5. Hi Sandra! Happy wonderful new year to you and your family. :-) These are all wonderful gifts to be celebrated, Sandra. Keep on writing, you write so well.

    And I am very glad to have met you. :-)

    1. Thank you, Imelda! Thank you for your readership--I really appreciate you as a writer, photographer, reader, and most of all, bloggy friend! Happy New Year to you, too!