I love Christmas cards. I love sending them and receiving them. I think it’s a great tradition and a special way to stay in touch, even in a world where most of us are connected via social media. I love going through our pictures from the year, finding our favorites and arranging them to share as a holiday greeting to our friends. I love the whole package.
Which is why it was such a hard decision for us to not send them this year. I won’t go into all the reasons right now, just understand that it was the best decision for our family for this year. Maybe they’ll be back again next year. Maybe not. But along with all our other reasons, it’s been a valuable learning experience about being willing to break a tradition, however beloved, when it’s just not serving our family’s best interests.
So if you’re accustomed to receiving a Christmas card from us, fear not. You are not being snubbed this year. You are not forgotten or any less loved by us. Most of you have seen plenty of pictures of how our kids have grown this year, and if you’re reading this blog post, you know how to find out about this year’s adventures. Thanks for following along!
2017 Travel Recap
So this post interrupts our chronological description of our travels. Though the blog posts would have you think we’re still in Nebraska, we’ve actually been in California for more than a month. Once again, we’ve been so busy having adventures that I’ve had trouble keeping up with writing about them. I’ve taken notes along the way, though, and still have ambitions of catching up. Our blog is as much about keeping a record for ourselves as it is for sharing our journey with others, so we don’t want to skip anything. Thanks for your patience!
Altogether we visited 28 states this year, and spent 3 months in Sweden. We have splashed in the crashing waves of both the Atlantic and the Pacific, and stood awed at mountain views in the Appalachians, Rockies and Sierra Nevadas. We have formed new friendships that we treasure, and spent precious time reconnecting with old friends, all while guarding abundant family time. We are so thankful that our lifestyle allows us all of this.
In 2018, we plan to cross the country again from California back to the East Coast. A visit to Sweden is tentatively planned and we anticipate ending the year in the Southeast after spending the fall in New England. But one of the perks of this lifestyle is flexibility, and though we dream and plan, these plans are generally “nailed in Jello.”
2017 Blog Recap
In case you missed them or just want to reminisce with us, here are some of our favorite places and posts from 2017…
Disney World was definitely a highlight for us back in February!
We discovered our favorite children’s museum in Houston…
… and our favorite zoo in Omaha.
2017 Family Recap
So much happens in the life of a child in the course of a year. The younger they are, the more true this is! Micah has had more ‘firsts’ this year than we can count. He was not even 4 months old when we rang in the new year, but this Christmas he’s a quick little toddler that sees everything and can reach most of it. He’s experimenting with using words to express himself, and his current favorite is “uh-oh!”
Peter turned 6 this year and is thriving in his freedom to learn and explore. He has become a great reader this year, and also learned to ride a bike and swim independently. He loves to build and create and regularly surprises us with his understanding of how things work.
Emelie is 8 and has declared 8 to be the perfect age. We might just agree. She continues to wow us with her talents for music and dance. Imagination is everything and she immerses herself fully in whatever game or role she’s playing. The princess phase is beginning to give way to more varied interests and pursuits, and she has an ever growing list of careers she’d like to pursue some day. No one has to tell this one to reach for the stars.
A year into this full-time lifestyle, we see so many of the benefits that drove us to pursue this in the first place. We spend much more time outside. Our kids have had so many unique opportunities for hands-on learning. Most days, they have both of their parents available to them most of the time. They are free to develop at their own pace and to truly be themselves. They have found like-minded friends, but are also true friends with each other. They love each other fiercely and take care of each other. I won’t pretend that this year has been without challenges, but they have all been worth it. Whatever happens in the year to come, this year has been a gift to all of us.
We have learned so much this year – about ourselves, about each other, and about the world around us. We have witnessed so much beauty and it has become a part of who we are.
Wherever you are as you read this, we hope and pray that you will take a minute to reflect on the beautiful things that have been a part of your 2017 and the ways they have changed you. Share a few in the comments so we can all bear witness with you.
We’re looking forward to a new year of living simply, learning, exploring and being together. And we heartily wish you the same. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Posted in Simplify and tagged 2017, 2018, Christmas, new year by Christine with 8 comments.