I’m ‘old school’.
None of these ‘new-fangled’ technologically-savvy agendas for this gal. I keep one of those cheap (free give-away) calendars on my desk for twelve months of the year. On it, I write down (chicken scratch) my day-to-day activities, and I confess that when it comes time to write this annual Christmas Letter I’ve reached the age when I must flip back through the pages to see what we (the six of us) were ‘up to’ in this life (frenzied daily mad-dash).
In January of 2017 I had two unmarked days on my calendar, in February three, and in March one. That’s it. That’s the actual ‘jist’ of our lives: most days are filled to the brim with menial and not-so-menial things done or left to do, with a few ‘free’ days hanging in limbo and staring blankly back at me with that look of ‘what’s next?’
Onofre’s techno-savvy agenda is far worse. He has a lengthy list of ‘important’ things on his paperless programme and spends about fourteen hours a day fulfilling those duties. In between the important things he travels to far-away places (Holland, Germany, Italy, Israel) for medical conferences/seminars (Cryobiopsy training, Respirology talks), and manages to get away twice a year to visit his ‘other home’ in San Luis Potosi, Mexico (eat tacos with brothers, visit with aging parents, and drink with friends). He also, somehow, managed to plan and execute a surprise 50th birthday party for his unsuspecting wife two weeks ago. That was cool!
Adan, back from his internship year in Ottawa, where he was working in Robotics at Neptec Industries, settled nicely into his final year of Applied Math, Engineering at Queen’s University, and is currently seeking Master Degree programs for next September (Germany, Switzerland, England, Canada). His happy life is filled with school, friends, and girlfriend Mallory (who just finished her final courses at Queen’s and has accepted a real job at Statistics Canada in Ottawa). Both will convocate in May 2018, and we are very happy for them in their achievements and forthcoming adventures. Adan will soon be twenty-four years old but his mom is in some serious denial that her kids are growing into adults.
Willie worked at the Wolfe Island Boat House (coaching rowing) last summer, did not attend PEI for the same reason (giving his parents another excuse to go back asap), and is currently finishing his fourth year in Film and Media, Stage and Screen Special Concentration, at Queen’s University. He’s now seeking post-graduate training either in film production at Vancouver Film School or post-production in Toronto for next September. Recently, Willie submitted two of his pieces to local film fest contests and we’re waiting, with bated breath, to see what transpires. Certainly, the piece that his mother wrote an original screenplay for him to film has to get some kind of mention, doesn’t it? (Insert winking face here)
Andres grew about three inches this past year, or so it seems. He got his driver’s license (yikes), played rugby, went to San Francisco on the school band trip, went to PEI with us last summer; visited Mexico ‘solo’ (actually he went with Adan and they stayed/travelled around with Tio Paco for an unforgettable journey), was the captain of his Grade 12 Ultimate team (Frisbee golf), got a part-time job on campus (Pita Pit); and has been volunteering in Kingston General Hospital’s Emergency Room. Most recently, he played The Wizard of Oz in the school play and wow’ed us with his performance, and is currently directing an A Capella Group for the Juvenis Youth Theatre Festival in Kingston. Andres has applied to further his education at McGill, McMaster, Queen’s (yay), or Western (blah) in Life Sciences. We are waiting, with more ‘bated breath’ and fingers/toes/eyes crossed, for offers to arrive in Spring. Gerry won’t hit rock-bottom of that empty nest until the same time next year when Hannah starts her university application process.
Hannah also grew and left her mother behind, in the shadows, in terms of who is now the shortest of the family. She, too, went to PEI and San Francisco (see above), continued to groom and ride horses every week, rowed a quad and a double for her school’s rowing team, won the Art Battle and Junior Art Award, showed and sold some of her art work in Kingston, and created art cards of her drawings and sold those too (with help from her first biggest fan, Gerry, and her second biggest fan, Poppa). This young artist/entrepreneur has received much praise for her drawings/paintings, and has a list of people now commissioning pieces. She worked on backdrop/set for the school play and is now gearing up for another season of rowing, which (unfortunately for Gerry) starts with indoor training at an ungodly morning hour in the new year.
And, in the past year, among the highlights in the chicken-scratched day-to-day activities, Gerry, otherwise known as The Overseer, released a young adult novel (I.R.I.S.), published a few (5) short fiction and creative nonfiction pieces in Canadian and British/US literary magazines (Carte Blanche, Blank Spaces, Forage Poetry), helped plan and accomplish a successful 30th High School Reunion in Port Perry, Ontario; re-visited PEI (ahh, heaven) and saw family in Nova Scotia (so nice); saved our student rental houses from floods at least 4 times, wrote an original screenplay for her son’s first solo short film (first time/see above), toured 3 universities; attended 26 different doctor/dentist/optometrist appointments, went to the barn 47 times, saw about 14 community theatre/school/local plays; attended the annual running of The Queen’s Plate, saw Elton John live in concert (bucket list), attended the Royal Winter Fair in excellent company; planned and brought-about a Tax Town Hall in Kingston to contest the proposed tax reforms, wrote a 50,000 word novel in thirty days (yes, it’s true so stay tuned in 2018), and turned 50.
Not bad! Not bad at all!
So the way I see it, the way this ‘Overseer’ sees it as she places another free give-away calendar on her very messy desk next week and flips the front cover to reveal an empty ‘January 2018’ staring blankly back at her… It’s time, once again, to fill those blanks with all the ‘what’s next’ things to do and ‘what can we do next’ things left to be done.
May your New Year be as fulfilling, as exciting, and as productive as our current year has been but with a little less mad-dash and a lot more delight written between the lines in your own chicken scratch, so that you too can come to the conclusion that I have come to…
I’d never have it any other way!
Best wishes of love, health, and happiness, from our bunch to yours, now and throughout 2018.