When I was a senior at Hope College I made a banner on the wall of the apartment I shared with my five other roommates—Sammy, Kristin, Karly, Molly and Jess. The banner said “JOY WALL” and the idea was to mark it up with, yes, joys. 

It was a nice idea. It worked for a while. But after weeks, maybe months, the days were bogged with tests and papers and the substance of life—and the joy wall became something different. It was just there, like the painting that you forget to see when you pass. 

It was a nice idea that ran its course and I thought about it a few times, living there, in the months of March, and April—the last months we all were in college. I wished the wall had been filled. It wasn’t. I wished that people who’d come over had written on the wall and found the idea to be perfect. But they didn’t. 

It was a nice sentiment. 

But then, I sometimes hear from Sammy, or Jess, and sometimes I’ll text other friends—Lauren, Naomi—and simply write: “Joys,” and begin to list them (three, or more if I have them). It’s a practice that hasn’t been entirely lost, and I’m grateful; even if the sentiment got buried in the mix-up of late-night dance parties, conversations on the couch, morning cram sessions in our bedrooms, and larger hangouts in the kitchen. . . well, heck. The idea wasn’t lost entirely. 

So, friends: my joys of 2017. I’ll keep it to three. 

1. Gigi. Enough said. 

2. Finishing a masters degree. Celebrating it with my friends—Clif, Bill, Darlene, Mairi, Naomi, so many others.

3.  That trip to Montana for a writing workshop, and visiting family near Glacier. The cool, clear air, the walks, the wine. 

There are more. I’m sure I’ll come up with them later. It’s my hope you’ll begin to think of a few of them, too. 

. . . It’s not likely I’ll have time to read two books in the next two weeks, but I’ll think optimistically and pretend that yeah, I will. I just pulled Being A Rockefeller, Becoming Myself from my bookshelf, and it’s 316 pages. Not a number that’s in the finishing range. But with this book, I’ve got an advantage: I can picture things. I’ll be able to see at least a few of the places: the Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor and maybe some of the surrounding outbuildings. I’ll be able to picture the landscape. And with the faces of the Rockefellers in my memory, maybe that’ll help me with the book’s other events, too. 

And next week, with Christmas in the air, I’ll try to finish The Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin, and work my fantasy brain for a bit. 

And that’ll be all she wrote (all she read). 

Blessings to all of you.