What a year it has been!
For the first time since before the pandemic, this is a year I’m actually sorry to see go. We had a lot of fun this year, and made enough memories to make up for all the things we didn’t get to do in the previous two years.
But first, January, which is always a fairly quiet month. We rang in the New Year, and I looked ahead to some of the things I was most anticipating in 2022 (Spoilers: they all happened this time!). Ladybug and I had the opportunity to go to the “Beyond Van Gogh” exhibit, which was really cool. Chickadee finally resumed her job as my grocery shopping buddy after taking a very long hiatus during the pandemic. We had our traditional Burns Supper.
We finally had a decent snowfall in February, which provided Turkey and Bunny with their first-ever official snow days. On the 6th, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Accession to the Throne with a tea party, the first of many Platinum Jubilee celebrations. We had a special dinner for the Opening Ceremonies of Beijing 2022, the first of several special themed meals we enjoyed during the Olympics. We eagerly celebrated “Twosday.”
March is always a fun month. We began with a special Mardi Gras celebration. We enjoyed the “Markel Family Tour di Pizza” which began on MAR10 Day and ended on Pi Day, which also happens to be the local observance of 314 Day. Lucky the Leprechaun dodged our trap (again) on St. Patrick’s Day. We celebrated Turkey’s 19th birthday. We spent a morning at Laumeier Sculpture Park. Chickadee turned 10. We had a fun time with Kirby Day.
April was an exciting month. It began with the news of Albert Pujols’ return to the St. Louis Cardinals for the final year of his storied career…I was over the moon about this storybook ending, and our Opening Day celebration was better than usual! We enjoyed the cherry blossoms at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We started preparing for our postponed epic family vacation in earnest, going so far as to count the days until our departure. Easter was especially nice.
May is always one of my favorite months of the year. We went asparagus picking for the first time, and then had a Spargelparty. As always, we celebrated May the Fourth and the Revenge of the Fifth with special meals, which were kind of precursors to the first of many Disney Dinners we would have this year. Ladybug turned 15. We ended our school year, and Turkey and Bunny finished their first year of college with spots on the Dean’s List and admittance into Phi Theta Kappa. We visited Art on the Square for the first time since 2019. The girls and I went to the St. Louis Aquarium. We made a triumphant return to Chicago and Combo Breaker, where Turkey joined Ryan as a paid worker, and the rest of us had the chance to volunteer.
Where do I even begin with June? I don’t think there has been, in the whole history of our family, a single month packed with so much fun. We started by attending a street party for the Platinum Jubilee, and I even made the Platinum Pudding to continue the celebration at home. We acquired some new neighbors. To celebrate not only the return of Albert Pujols, but also the historic season for the battery of Molina and Wainwright, we attended a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium as a family for the first time in at least five years. We picked lavender for the first time. I had a fun birthday celebration. And that was all the “boring” half of the month because….
On the 18th, we piled in the van to begin our epic family vacation! We visited Washington D.C., discovered a really cool memorial, ate at an amazing local establishment, took a tour of the capitol, and went to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. We spent a night in Myrtle Beach, SC, got the rotors replaced on our car, and took a walk through Forsyth Park in Savannah, GA. After we stretched our legs, we finished the drive to Orlando, FL, where we visited all of the Disney World parks…Epcot, Hollywood Studios, the Magic Kingdom, and the Animal Kingdom. We traveled the world, enjoyed the Flower and Garden Festival, immersed ourselves in Star Wars, ate lunch at The Hollywood Brown Derby, took part in the World’s Most Magical Celebration, rode the monorail and explored the Mary Blair mural at the Contemporary Resort, and met some of our favorite characters. We even found some time for shopping at Disney Springs. If all that wasn’t enough, we also toured Kennedy Space Center (and saw a rocket launch while we were there!), and spent a day hanging out by the resort pool. Oh, and after all this time, we finally got COVID…that also appears to be part of the Disney World experience.
After all that fun, July was spent from recovering, both from COVID, and from all of our travels! We spent the first two weeks back home lying around the house watching old Disney movies (Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros were favorites) and playing with our souvenirs. We were all healthy by the time Bunny’s 18th birthday rolled around. I had my first root canal, which was not as bad as I feared, but not something I’d care to repeat.
August was a similarly quiet month. We did make a quick day trip up to Chicago for the Fab Five’s first visit to Navy Pier and an appointment at the Rare Dirndl design studio. We finished summer school (Disney themed, of course!) before everyone started back to school…Turkey and Bunny in their second year of college, Moose a junior in high school, Ladybug a sophomore, and Chickadee in the fifth grade.
September is usually a low-key month…it’s kind of the February of the second half of the year. Ladybug, Chickadee, and I did go back to the Missouri History Museum for the first time since before the beginning of the pandemic, and took part in a great hands-on exhibit. Chickadee had her braces removed. And then, a terrible day. Of course I knew Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t going to live forever, and based on her age, her time on earth realistically had to be drawing short. Just the same, I guess I really wasn’t prepared for her passing to coincide with her Platinum Jubilee year. I did take a break from the wall-to-wall news coverage I couldn’t turn off to attend our town’s Oktoberfest.
In October, we started cooking our way through The Nightmare Before Christmas Cookbook. We visited Grant’s Farm, picked the perfect pumpkin (or four), and returned to Legends and Lanterns for the first time since 2019 (do you sense a theme this year?). Our family Oktoberfest was later in the month than I would have liked, but better late than never, right? Ladybug, Chickadee, and I took a hike at Shaw Nature Reserve and had a great time.
November was a busy month. We celebrated Moose’s 17th birthday. On Election Day, we took our annual walk around Creve Coeur Lake, and then Turkey and Bunny voted for the first time! We had a very unexpected snow. Ladybug, Chickadee, and I took a new trail at Cahokia Mounds. We attended the 10th anniversary of Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We baked all of the pies in preparation for Thanksgiving. The Fab Five started a new Advent project.
And that brings us to December. We were back in St. Charles for one of our very favorite events, Christmas Traditions. We had a very nice Nikolaustag, even if it did make me feel old. We also enjoyed Luciamorgon. Our Christmas in Germany themed Christmas School was a lot of fun and helped us connect to our heritage! We baked all of the things. The Fab Five finished their Advent project. We had a very merry Christmas. But we needed a little more Christmas, so we visited the Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo before it closed for the season.
I don’t see how 2023 can top this year, and I don’t think there’s really any point in trying. Some things are once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and there’s just no competing with them!