(Annually, I send out a Christmas Letter with the Christmas Cards. If you are on that mailing list … it’s coming, I promise. If not, consider this the open letter for the year.)
Happy Holidays Everyone,
It’s that time of year when the air gets colder, the ground begins to turn from brown to white, and we forget where the shorts are hidden so we can wear the thickest and ugliest of sweaters. Also, it’s that time of year to share holiday wishes and catch everyone up on all things Mitch. So many times, writing this letter is the challenge of fitting all the interesting things on a standard 8-½ by 11; this year that wasn’t so hard. In fact, I’m already one paragraph in and stalling for time.
After the major changes in 2014, I maintained a bit of consistency you could say. Auggie the Doggie & I still live in Dorchester, MA – a neighborhood on the South Side of Boston (if you ever watched Black Mass, Departed, or anything staring the Wahlbergs; that’s Dorchester). I continue to work for Bodycote Thermal Processing as the North American Quality Manager, which has me overseeing Quality at 22 plants in 9 states & Mexico. Of course, I’ve had jobs that have me traveling a lot, but that was nothing compared to what 2015 was like. I stayed in hotels for 226 nights in 2015, which is nearly 2 out of 3 nights in the year. This includes a run of nearly 4 months based in Southern California. Needless to say, I didn’t spend much time ‘living’ in Dorchester – but at least I had a lot of hotel waffles.
A majority of that travel was by car; mostly visiting plants in the New England area. Which did lead to some nice day trips to places like Mt Washington. The highlight, though, was the aforementioned Southern California stay, and a massive road trip to get there and get back. Heading out, time was tight, so the pup and I (I did most the driving) did it over two weekends. Coming back, it was nearly six days of wandering through the countryside, including an incredible day through Utah, reliving the dream of Shenandoah NP, and seeing for the first time the Grand Canyon (#bucketlist). I’ve always been a sucker for the ‘Great American Road Trip’, and that life of riding the open road watching the land pass by you. It surprised me that with such a major drive (3058 miles going out, 4330 miles on the prolonged return trip); that I covered so much road on it I had already covered. In fact, on the way out there was a strip of rood on US 54 from Liberal, KS through the Oklahoma & Texas Panhandles to where it intersects with I-40 in New Mexico – that 100 mile section was the only portion of my drive out that I hadn’t driven before. If that’s just doesn’t spit in that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ motto; I get to make that same drive starting next week.
A real highlight came this summer – a real celebration! My parents celebrated the Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. To celebrate, they planned everything – garden party, live music, and open invitation to anyone who was within spitting distance. It was the first opportunity in years/decades that so much of my immediate family were together (and I was there for once); so we spent hours catching up – and for the cousins it was hours of us learning what it means to be grown up (usually involving beer). Of course, all of my parent’s friends, people I haven’t seen for years, stopped by – as well as longtime friends I talk to only through Facebook. Ironically, the people I talked to the least were my parents, wrapped in their own great catching up. In a way, that was what they wanted; this party to bring all these people together to enjoy the day – but together we celebrated them, and the great achievement of their 50-year happiness.
There was one change that couldn’t be missed. On November 20th I had mini gastric bypass surgery; a procedure intended to make permanent changes to improve my life. It’s only been a month, but if you ignore the weird digestive problems, it’s so far so good.
Of course, there is always more to cover. I had a long weekend drum corps in Indianapolis. Saw more of Connecticut than I thought I would see. Drank my share of wine with friends in Temecula Valley. And spent most of November writing for the National Novel Writing Month, winning for the first time (which just means I wrote 50,000 words … I didn’t win anything, and am far from finished).
The year wasn’t without it’s trouble, in fact, it seemed I spent more of it trying to work myself out of the problems in my world. Part of it was the ongoing homesickness for that way too short of time I spent in Alaska. I chat and talk to all those old friends and look at pictures constantly, hoping a time will come and a reason will come that will lead me back to the last frontier.
But as the year was coming to an end, I was struck by a lyric to a song by the group Passenger that put all those bad things into perspective:
Don’t Cry for the Lost; Smile for the Living
It’s the time of year to remember just that – that we are lucky, that we have much to be thankful for. So it’s better we approach the new year with hope and reason to change that holds us back. Don’t cry for what life isn’t – love what it is.
From Auggie & Mitch
Merry Christmas &
Happy New Year