For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await a new voice.
– T.S. Eliot, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, poet, dramatist, and literary critic, from Four Quartets
Sharing my annual holiday greeting on my blog….
I began our holiday letter at various times throughout December – and still haven’t finished it! It’s now post-Christmas and I finally have quiet time to reflect on the past year. I decided to keep the snapshot frame around this year’s reflections.
Dear Family and Friends:
As I sit here on a rainy night at SFO, waiting for my delayed red-eye cross-country flight and the frenzy of company meetings but happily anticipating spending time with dear friends afterwards, I realize my current situation mirrors what the year has been like for me and my family: Crazy busy, time slipping through our fingers, sharing adventures, making it a priority to spend precious time with family and friends, shaping our dreams, and more crazy busy.
Our big adventure this year as a family was our visit to Philadelphia this past August. My goal is to have the kids visit major cities and national/state parks every year while still under our roof. I feel the urgency, knowing that I’m running out of time! We chose our nation’s first capital after Jacob’s enthusiasm over a Washington, D.C., 8th grade trip in February. We figured we could enjoy a history lesson as a family. What we learned or memorable lessons: Ben Franklin was the man (thumbs up), while George Washington as president took advantage of a loophole in the City’s no-slaves law by switching out his slaves every six months (thumbs down). We made stops to Baltimore to watch an Orioles game in Camden Yards and outside of Philly to see Gettysburg and Amish country in the towns of Lancaster/Bird-in-Hand/Intercourse. We also caught a Phillies game, much to Isabella’s chagrin – she who does not like baseball of any kind.
Jacob: Yes, we have a high schooler in the house
The day has finally come: David and I are parents of a high schooler. Jacob’s two years at Portola Middle School – as we were warned – flew by. His year was highlighted by the D.C. trip and having two wonderful teachers who shaped him academically. Mr. Aloi, his unorthodox history teacher, gave him a love of history – more importantly, a love of the backstory to those memorized dates and names of famous people, places, and events. Mr. McCormick, who was voted teacher of the year for the district, created an environment in which Jacob appreciated English, and this is from a kid who doesn’t like to write or read. Major kudos for that magic! The combination of his love of history and being in our nation’s capital made quite the impression on him. After we convinced him that he isn’t cut out for joining the military, he has settled for learning everything he can about WWII. Months ago, he convinced me to watch Saving Private Ryan with him; we stayed up until 2AM Saturday morning. He has since dug up old DVDs we have – Why We Fight and The Fog of War – and after I summarized these documentaries for him and asked if he was interested in watching them, he said sure. I was thrilled. (Post script: We got to see them during the holiday break!)
As I sit here, among rows of black and steel chairs filling up with weary travelers and amid the constant thump of the escalator, I am warmed by recalling the past weekend. Surrounded by the roaring fireplace and our fragrant Noble Fir tree, we four watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, adding our running commentary throughout, nourished by our traditional popcorn, hot cocoa, Trader Joe’s mini chocolate stars, and chocolate-caramel-sea salt tea. The next night we watched It’s a Wonderful Life, which is my favorite holiday movie. They both loved it, and I was touched when Jacob told me later that he really liked the movie. He’s not as talkative as he used to be, though he’ll surprise me with bursts now and then. But while he’s discovering his freedom and I feel that pull away, I also feel a closeness that I know will always remain. Last Sunday evening when I was working in front of the fireplace, he sat next to me on the sofa to study and we shared the blanket that was keeping me warm.
This year was Jacob’s last season on his Hornets baseball travel team, which was ending after a four-year stint because half the team was entering high school in the fall. The team gelled and played extremely well, winning a tournament and placing second in a few other tournaments. It was gratifying for me – and for David, who was his manager all four years – to see the team’s well-executed plays both on offense and defense. It’s sad to see this era end, but exciting to see what high school baseball will bring. As for his other sport, it will also be “thrilling” for David and me when he finally puts in the time and effort into getting his Black Belt in tae kwondo. We’re still waiting….
A guest speaker at our December high school PTSA meeting who has studied child psychology gave a short presentation on the teenaged brain – that strange, wonderful, and mysterious organ. She informed us that our brains don’t mature until between the ages of 25 and 30. That explains a lot! It also made me want to tell Jacob – enjoy life and don’t feel pressured about plotting out your life just yet (because your mom will worry on the sidelines for you!). I’m trying to balance the hand-wringing over grades and the nurturing of his love of history, stop-action filmmaking, and animal sciences by opening up windows and opportunities for him to explore these areas. He had a smooth transition to high school and is really enjoying his classes, teachers, and new and old friends. It’s an exciting time for him, and I find myself catching my breath when I spy him from afar and I see him changing, growing up right before my eyes. These are indeed the miracle years.
Isabella: Our big-hearted animal lover and steward of the environment
Isabella, who turned 12 in early December, is the over-scheduled child, but it’s of her own choosing. She is involved in fall and spring soccer, band (Wednesday evenings with the middle school band teacher in addition to elementary school band), Shakespeare for Kids, horseback riding lessons, and flamenco. She has always loved animals, but after I took her to an urban homesteading talk, she dreams of raising farm animals and growing a garden, partly because it’s good for the environment. She and her friends have raised funds each month selling home-baked cookies and fresh lemonade for the Milo Foundation, which rescues and adopts out dogs and cats. It warms my heart that she is already a good steward of our earth.
Isabella had a rough academic year with two difficult teachers in 5th grade but is enjoying her last year, 6th grade, at Harding Elementary School (our 10th year!). We look forward to her entering middle school, though the passing is bittersweet. She still holds my hand or slips her arm through my arm, wakes up early on weekends so she can accompany me on walks with Rex, and loves running errands with me. That said, she spends a lot of time now with her door closed, playing with her Breyer horses or looking up rabbit videos on YouTube. She’s growing taller and wears a size 8 now (the curse of the Enrado women big feet), big enough to wear some of my shoes. She still thinks boys and girls should play separately. All that will change in a few short years. But for now, she’s my sweetie. I can always count on her to say, when I ask her what’s up, “Nothing but love.”
David: An Explosion of projects
After the recession sort of went away, David’s work has exploded to the levels we saw prior to the shutdown in the fall of 2008. Like everybody else in the household, David has had an active year. His office is extremely busy, and has grown to 70 people, while his group is up to eight people, five of whom are quite young. Combined with the volume of work, the youth of the staff has kept David on his toes, a far cry from where things were a couple of years ago. He’s putting in some long hours mentoring the staff and working on several projects, from city blocks of residential structures to smaller renovation jobs. This year also marked David’s final season coaching Jacob’s baseball team, and though he enjoyed coaching over the past six years, he was more than ready to hang up his spikes, sit in the stands, and become a spectator. He’s also been pretty dedicated about attending Isabella’s soccer games.
Patty: Finding my way amid the frenzy
I’m in a nostalgic bent right now, and maybe for end-of-the-year musings this frame of mind is appropriate. So now I’m sitting in Portland International, awaiting my flight back home after this business trip and wonderful time spent with long-time good friends Jack and Fay and their kids. I didn’t travel as much this year as in previous years. And aside from the recent Portland, ME, business/pleasure trip, I only traveled to Las Vegas, Orlando, and Dallas, not-so-desirous destinations. We’re continuing to grow my department, a strategic goal of my company, with me still doing some writing but mostly focusing on management and business development, finally working upstream with the sales team and management to create long-term programs (as opposed to having projects land on my desk for execution). In February I was promoted to senior manager of custom content, and I hope to continue that upward trajectory with a lot of creativity and freedom to make that growth a reality.
I joined the East Bay Lunafest Committee last year and in March we had a successful Lunafest screening. Lunafest is a film festival “by, for and about women” that enables local communities to fundraise for both the Breast Cancer Foundation and local organizations. In the fall, I joined El Cerrito High School’s Investing in Academic Excellence, which is a rare committee that actually makes a difference. We identify academic needs, raise funds, and build out programs to address those needs. It’s very gratifying and we’ll be able to see immediate benefits once we roll out the programs in the spring.
Amid work, extracurricular activities, and family duties and activities, I’ve had to cut back on my blog. I don’t know how I was able to blog three times a week, especially during the busy season at work, for the first two years of its existence. I scaled back to two times a week, and as time went on, I found that I’d go through a week to several weeks (like now) of not having time to write. The blog has also changed a bit in that I don’t have as much time to interview all the interesting women I meet and it’s become less of a lifestyle blog and more of a contemplative blog. David pointed out that the reason I don’t have as much time is that I’m finally exchanging activities like blogging with a couple of hours of sleep a night – a good trade from a health perspective!
I finished my novel, A Village in the Fields, earlier this year, and I began the dreaded but deliberately short search for a literary agent. After a well-known agent who represented one of my favorite authors asked to read my manuscript in the summer but ended up not taking it, I decided to abandon the traditional route. I’ve queried small publishers, and as I wait, I’m exploring other ways of how to get it to my core audience – the Filipino and Asian American communities and Asian American Studies programs at universities across the country. It takes stepping back from reading, researching, and writing to develop and commit to a plan of action, and I just have to do it. Once I do that, I can clear my head and be totally committed to the second novel, which is awaiting my undivided attention. That means the fate of the first novel will be decided and executed in 2015, which by the way is the 50th anniversary of the Great Delano Grape Strike – a perfect marketing tool! Stay tuned.
‘In everything, give thanks’
I find myself realizing – during rare quiet moments or when a miracle or tragedy occurs outside of our family – how lucky and blessed we are. Health, a roof over our heads, a means to make our lives comfortable when so many are without these basic needs. I sound like a broken record to Jacob and Isabella about appreciating what they have and therefore sharing and giving our gifts to those not as fortunate as we. It’s only then do we fully grasp how rich our lives are and how this is really the only way to live. As we close out another year and look to the New Year, as we celebrate the holidays, we wish you much love and joy, peace and justice, and light in your lives!