Friday, December 27, 2013

2013: Gratitude for Good Things

The Family, August 2013
Last January, following the example of our niece, I plunked a Mason jar on the kitchen counter and labeled it "Good Things 2013." We began to fill the jar with reminders of moments both awe-inspiring and (more often) quietly joyful. As the year enters its closing scenes, the jar fairly bursts with little scraps of folded paper. We will open the jar on New Year's Day, and you will thank me for sparing you the long list of happy events that matter mostly only to those of us who lived them. Still, since the year has brought such an abundance of memories, I'll pick out just a few to give you a glimpse of life with the Wallace/Larsen clan over the past year.

January marked our 19th wedding anniversary. That means, of course, that in just a couple of weeks we will celebrate 20 years of marital bliss. Once upon a time, we planned to celebrate our 20th in Scotland or Italy. As the milestone drew closer, we scaled the plan back to a return to Key West (where we celebrated our 10th). Now, with the day fast approaching, I'm thinking we'll maybe go out to dinner and catch some live music downtown. Reality has a way of catching up with us!

In February, Brad and I discovered the Central Illinois Jazz Festival in Decatur, an event we will most certainly make an annual tradition. Then we sent Alec off to Logan, Utah for the out-of-staters weekend at Utah State University. After a weekend of college life and snowboarding, his senioritis really kicked into gear!

March brought spring break for the kiddos, which began with our one real snowstorm of the year and ended with a wonderful family getaway to St. Louis. We built a magical snow castle, cavorted with butterflies at the Butterfly House and crawled through endless tunnels at the City Museum.

April flew past, with May and the end of the school year fast on its heels. Alec and Juliana celebrated the end of early morning seminary, while Jared and Kristina left 7th and 1st grade in the dust. Days later, Alec graduated from high school and wowed us with his senior piano recital. We love having a houseful of pianists!

July brought a flurry of house guests, culminating in Devin's long-anticipated return from his mission to San Antonio, Texas. Nothing stacks up to that first post-mission hug...even though we only got to keep him home for a week before Devin and Alec headed off to Logan and a semester as roommates at Utah State. Juliana flew West days later for an absolutely perfect bucket list hiking trip in the Wind Rivers. Brad took his turn in the Rockies in October when he joined the boys in the Salt Lake temple as Alec began preparing for his mission to Paris, France. (He's scheduled to enter the MTC on January 22, and he's beyond excited!)

In November, Brad and Jared officially ended the football season with a tournament in Missouri, and Brad thoroughly enjoyed what will probably be his last chance to coach one of his sons in football. Then we put the pads away and pulled out the basketballs for the next few months. Even Kristina gets into the action this time, playing on two teams.

Now here we are, basking in our Christmas goodie hangovers. Brad's parents and sister and our big boys all made it to the prairie for Christmas, and we are filling every bit of remaining space in the memory jar. For the first time in years I have enjoyed the Christmas season from beginning to end. For that, for family and for countless gifts from the Savior whose birth we have so enjoyed celebrating, I find myself filled to the brim with gratitude.

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