2016 – A Year in Review

2016 was one hell of a year. From start to finish I never quite knew what was coming around the corner, and for some of that I am thankful.

I will start with the bad that the year brought, because I don’t believe it should be skated around. This year took 2 family members from us, and both were shocking. In late July, my late grandfather’s wife died, and the beginning of November took Colin. I lost others in my life this year, but in grossly different ways. This year was also the year I had to leave Colorado, a state I fell in love with.

The bad of 2016 was pretty bad. There is no way to sugarcoat it. It would be very easy to write the whole year off as a loss. Despite that, there were some great moments.

I completed a 10-week senior thesis with my sanity intact and I graduated college with University Honors. Course schedules brought a long-time Facebook friend and I into each other’s paths, and our friendship is something I am so grateful for. I got to spend a few short months with some people who made the bulk of my last semester in college tolerable. I got to stand by one of my best friends as she married her best friend, and I got to see a life-long friend get engaged as well. I got to meet extended family members whom I might not have otherwise met, and reconnected with others I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade. Better yet, a cousin that lives out of state got to visit because she wanted to, not because she had to. This year gave me a very real look at the people in my life, and I gained a new appreciation for those who are by my side. There were also a lot of new relationships that formed and opportunities that presented themselves, and they have paved a road that I am excited about continuing down. I was fortunate enough to travel quite a bit as well. I got to finally take my family to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. More than that, I got to go to Redwoods National and State Parks for the first time, and I got a Yosemite National Park annual pass which I have been taking advantage of.

2017 is sure to be another year with highs and lows, and I am ready to see what it has to teach me about myself and those in my life.

 

Grandpa’s House

This post is the first in an intermittent series about miscellaneous traditions or rituals that my family participates in.

Recent events caused me to take a very long walk down memory lane, which was accompanied by hundreds of negatives and photo CDs (associated with the subject of this post, in reality we have thousands, which are well catalogued). As we searched for specific images that included my Grandpa and his wife Deborah, I was reminded of all the staple events/activities that were associated with them. I think that now is as good of a time as any to share a few of them.

Poppers

Dinner at Grandpa’s house included party poppers (accompanied by tiny salt and pepper shakers at every place setting, but that was Deborah’s attention to detail). They were a staple feature at the kids table (which was occupied by Colin, Preston, Grandpa, and me) and the adults table (everyone else). Sure, poppers are simple, but you bet dinner is that much better if you’re wearing a paper crown while eating it.

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Cake

Upon going through pictures, it became apparent that we had about as many fruit filled store-bought cakes as we did cakes made by my mom to celebrate birthdays. The ones my family brought are the ones I remember, though. Lemon cake (disclaimer: it was originally made by my mom and towards the end bought from Costco) and my mom’s devil’s food cake with chocolate & coffee frosting were considered staples for celebrating birthdays. Grandpa, Parker, Colin, and myself always shared a birthday gathering because we are all within a 23 day span. Likewise, Preston and Deborah always shared a gathering because they were 2 days apart.

Feeding the Koi

I will never forget the huge koi in the most gorgeous shades of orange and yellow and white that resided in the pond at their house. Weather permitting, at some point during a visit, us grandkids would fish out the plastic container of food and head down to the pond. As soon as these fish saw people coming, they would all come to the surface.

The Slot Machine

We have no way of knowing if this was Grandpa’s way of priming us to come of age and go to the casino just a few miles up the road or just a fun thing he liked having in the house, all we knew was the one rule: don’t break it.

Feeding the Ducks/Geese

Seeing as the property backed a body of water that was frequented by all sorts of water-loving fowl, Deborah liked to save bread when she knew the grandkids were coming so we could go down and feed them.

Stair Pictures

As my mom and I sifted through images, we came across what we believe to be the origin of the stair pictures:

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From that point, it evolved into just the cousins, then my immediate family, and eventually the cousins and the parents with my grandfather. Over the years, the joke was that we all wouldn’t fit at some point (and upon returning to the house, the 6 of us who participated realized just how much truth there was to that statement).

 

As simple as all these things seem, they are the things I will always remember. When I found out I might have an opportunity to go back to my Grandfather’s house after 8.5 years, I was not sure if I even wanted to. I am so glad that I did, though, because it has caused me to remember all the joy that once was. It’s easy to get caught up in what is currently happening, the feelings that are currently surfacing, but there is always good with the bad, and to some extent it should be cherished.