As the year comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on all that has happened and look forward to what is next. I have had a very blessed 2022, and I’m incredibly grateful for the time I’ve spent with my family. We can’t always be together, but that only made this year more special.
Late this year, we had a wonderful visit from my sister, Beth, and her husband, Jitze. They live in Holland, so we don’t see them often, but they visited for a couple of months this autumn and stayed with my mom, who lives one town over. During their visit, my sister, Leigh, came down from Maine, and my brother, Grant, came up from North Carolina. Meanwhile, my brother, Robert, his wife, Jennifer, and their three kids live locally, so we had the opportunity to spend time together.
We also spent substantial time with my wife, Tala’s, side of the family. Her mother, Swetlana, and brother, Michael, live locally, so we regularly see them. But her brother, George, his wife Maria, and their two children also visited this year. We all have busy lives, so those gatherings are rare and we try to make the most of them.
We’re also excited to celebrate my daughter, Alecia’s, graduation from William & Mary. She’ll be attending graduate school, but in the meantime, she’s taking a year off. William & Mary is known for its robust study abroad program, but COVID threw a wrench into everything, and Alecia never got the opportunity to travel during college. So, she’s making up for lost time.
With the money she saved from her fitness and dance instructor job and graduation gifts she received in high school and college, she left in October to pursue a backpacking adventure across Europe. She’s traveling through 14 countries in 60 days. She put together the entire itinerary herself. Tala and I are amazed and proud of her initiative and independence.
One of the most important stops will be in Holland, where she’ll visit Beth and Jitze before traveling to different cities to spend time with her cousins, Jennifer and Carolyn and her husband Danian. She’ll also meet another cousin, Anja, when she travels through Cambridge, England. Her adventures will also take her through Portugal, Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, and Scotland. She’s returning mid-December in time for Christmas, and I’m sure she’ll have many stories to tell.
My son, Nicholas, is also doing well. He is in his third year of a mechanical engineering degree at George Mason University. He also does a fantastic job competing as a pole vaulter on the school’s track team. We love having him so close by, and he occasionally comes home to share a meal with us.
I’m so grateful for the time I’ve spent with my family this year and the time they’ve spent with each other. Something as simple as a shared meal helps revive me. I plan to make 2023 and every other year in the future just as dedicated to the people I love most. I hope you do the same — whether that means gathering with family, friends, or neighbors. Take the opportunities to assemble when you can, and make the most of it when you can’t. Happy holidays!