The Best of 2011

It’s snowing here on New Year’s Eve — gigantic, golf-ball-sized snowflakes — the biggest snowflakes we’ve seen in all our 15 winters here.

Usually snow doesn’t phase Minnesotans, especially in December. Ordinarily we have seen it all by this time of the year. But our state has been in a strange “snow drought” this December. We didn’t have a white Christmas, and that’s a huge blow to Minnesota pride. It’s hard to surrender bragging rights on a white Christmas, especially when you have to endure nine months of winter.

But now this. Gigantic snowflakes spiraling down to us from heaven above, piling up into a fluffy blanket worthy of sleds and snowball fights and such. This snowfall is making our household downright giddy! And some neighbors must feel the same snow thrill because as I type, at 10 p.m., I can hear shrieks of joy and crazy laughter from a few sledders on the hill nearby.

I wonder if the Israelites were ever this thrilled about manna? And I wonder what God-given gifts of grace our family will unwrap in 2012.

In the meantime, since the last moments of 2011 are slipping away, let’s have an award show! Eleven awards during the eleventh hour of the 2011th year! Woo-hoo!

#11, #10 and #9. For Best Movies of 2011, it’s a three-way first place tie between Dolphin Tale, Soul Surfer and Courageous. Somehow I managed to see two of these movies in the theatre (gasp!) with my husband. That’s really the most shocking news here. And the other movie, Dolphin Tale, our entire family just finished watching in the basement a few moments ago. There were tears and sobs and laughs a-plenty, especially from the younger generation. And then after spending two hours completely entranced by Winter the Dolphin, we came upstairs to be completely entranced by Winter the Season. This is the stuff “Remember that time…” memories are made of.

#8. For Best Book, the award goes to One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Here’s my review of it from last January.

#7. For Best Children’s Book Author, the award goes to the late Elizabeth Enright (1909-1968). I read aloud two of her books — Gone Away Lake and The Saturdays — to the girls this year. We all adored them and look forward to reading more of her works in 2012.

#6. For Best Date-Night Destination, the award goes to Freeziac, a do-it-yourself frozen yogurt shop. Think TCBY 1980-something, except you get to dish up the cold stuff and top it however you like it. Marshmallows, nuts, hot caramel, hot butterscotch, and a few dozen other toppings. You pay by the ounce. And with comfy seating and board games, it’s the perfect destination for a fulfilling yet inexpensive evening hanging out with someone you dearly love. Truth be told, we’ve only been to Freeziac as a family. But I’m thinking this post might inspire a certain someone I know to set up a date night. Soon. (I’ll let you know if he gets the hint.)

#5. For Best Strangely Lovable Four-Legged Animal, the award goes to the llama. Most significant contributors to the llama’s new-found popularity are Chocolate Chip and Carmella, which we met and hiked with this fall on a homeschool field trip. Also factoring into this election are the book Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney and the movie The Emperor’s New Groove, in which the emperor turns into a llama.

#4. For Best Tea I Finally Tried, the award goes to Tazo Organic Chai. After years of refusing to try chai tea simply because it seemed entirely too trendy and creamy for my taste, I tried and fell in love with this tea, with sugar and without milk, mind you. My daughters adore it, too.

#3. For Best Garden Display in Minnesota, the award goes to the rose garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

#2. For Best Garden Display in My Backyard, the award goes to my backyard peonies. We came home from vacation in June just in time to savor this delightful display of pink blooms.

#1. For Best Gift in My Thousand Gifts List, the award goes to number 718, Linnea’s baptism.

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