Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! This “Christmas” Letter has turned into a New Year’s Letter — But may every holiday you celebrate be filled with moments of joy!
It’s time for my annual reflection on my year. I try to get it written by Christmas, but allow myself grace if it doesn’t happen. This year — I had the letter written by Christmas, but decided to look through all the pictures I took in 2022, so now it’s the New Year. One thing that’s always true is how much my life is enriched by the people I’ve gotten to spend time with along the way — so do know that I am thinking about you during this holiday season and wishing you blessings and joy.
2022 was a fabulous year for me. A turning point came one morning in March. I was sitting on an interview panel, thinking how much more fun interview panels are when you’re one of the people asking the questions instead of the person answering the questions. I thought to myself, “I’m so glad I love my job and will never have to interview ever again!”
Then we broke for lunch and a Youth Services Managers’ meeting at 1:00. At the meeting, the Youth Materials Selector for our entire system of 22 branches announced that she was going to be moving to Utah. It was less than half a second after she said that before I knew that I would be applying for that position and that I wanted it with all my heart.
And, yes, I applied. They were mercifully quick about opening the position up for applications and getting the interviews done. (I say mercifully, because nine years before, the same position had been open, and what with one thing and another, it went unfilled for a year and a half.) The interview was virtual and somehow that was a lot less scary for me than in person, and I’d practiced, and it went really well. Since June, I have been working as Youth Materials Selector! And yes, I love the job as much as I’ve always known I would. Yes, I loved working in the branches, but this feels like the right job for me at the right time, and I’m still tremendously happy about going to my job every day — or teleworking and doing my job at home.
I’ve always been obsessed with new children’s books — and now that’s my job! It also feels a little bit like a game figuring out how many of which items to order and still stay within the various budgets. I spend over $20,000 each week, so I get to use my math skills as well. It’s perfect!
The rest of my life is full and happy, too. Also in March, I took a trip to the amazing Highlights Foundation Center for a writing retreat. (They feed you! Wonderful farm-fresh food.) My pandemic project was writing a book about Psalms, and now I’ve got the book where I’m ready to submit it to agents and/or publishers. I am really hoping to have more to report about that next year.
Now that I telework twice a week, I manage to get in more walks by my lake (working later if I take a long break) and still can’t resist taking pictures of the flowers, autumn leaves, and especially the great blue heron.
I still play board games, with an in-person Sunday afternoon group still going strong, and a weekly Tuesday evening virtual game time and Skype call with both my kids, Zephyr and Tim, who live in Oregon. I consider that weekly time with them the Great Gift of the Pandemic, because that’s what made me aware of the dominion.games site — featuring a game I’d played with Tim all through their years in high school and college.
As of September, I’ve begun co-leading a ladies’ virtual small group with my church. Going virtual has been a good way to make friends and connect with a group without taking yet another evening out and about, because Wednesday nights, I’m singing with the church choir and still getting great joy out of that.
This Christmas felt hectic — because on Thanksgiving I took a trip to Maui for my sister Wendy’s wedding! Yes, the trip was wonderful, but it wasn’t quite what I expected, since I got a tiny sore throat three days after I got there — and the next day had a full-fledged cold — and tested positive for Covid.
The good news is that Wendy didn’t catch it and the friend I was staying with didn’t catch it and my other visiting family members didn’t catch it. I ended up doing a lot of reading and relaxing on the balcony of my friend’s house and ate all my meals outdoors. And the wedding was on the beach, with a strong wind, on Day 6 of Covid, so I was able to attend and enjoy Wendy’s wonderful windy wedding.
When I got back, I had my second negative Covid test (48 hours apart) exactly on time to rehearse for our choir’s Christmas cantata one day and perform the next. After the performances, I fell asleep for four hours! But it was a great joy to get to sing.
Yet another thing keeping me busy and happy is Book Award Committees. I took a reading retreat in October to New River Gorge National Park to read for the first round of the Cybils Awards, in the Young Adult Speculative Fiction category. This year, I’m category chair as well. We met virtually to choose our Finalists the day after Christmas, so of course I was still finishing up the reading through Christmas. After that, I have some books to read for the Mathical Book Prize, by January 10th (but those are mostly shorter). And after that, I want to cram in some more books for Capitol Choices — a local group of librarians that chooses 100 best children’s and young adult books of the year each year.
And just this week I got the good news that I have been appointed to the 2024 Morris Award committee! This group chooses the best young adult book of 2023 by a debut author. So I will need to get busy reading for that award as soon as I finish all that reading for 2023 awards.
Remember what I told you about being obsessed with new children’s books? Both my new job and these committees feed that obsession and bring me lots of joy. I’m probably a little bit overcommitted, but I’m definitely having fun.
And if you’re interested in which books I loved most from 2022, watch my Sonderbooks site for the 2022 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. I like to post them on New Year’s Day, but a bad tooth had other ideas. I hope it will be soon, though!
So that’s what I’ve been up to in 2022. How about you? I always love this chance to reconnect with friends. Drop me an email if you get the chance!
And here’s wishing you all a joyous holiday season!
You lead such a fulfilling life, Sondy. I’m sure there are some empty spaces because we all have them but you have filled your life with a myriad of interests and success.
Thanks for the letter.
Sondy, you have me living vicariously through your adventures! Your photography is always wonderful to look at, I especially enjoy the blue heron pics.
I really admire the very full life you have. It warms my heart to know you are so fulfilled in your career.
I love how you artfully selected the photos to punctuate your letter too. Well done!
Great letter, Sondy! And beautiful, well-chosen photos. Of course, I especially like the one of Jim and me. 🙂
Thanks so much, Deborah! It’s so good to be back in touch with you!
Thanks, Wendy! I simply had to include one of those great photos of the two of you, if I’m going to talk about going to your wedding!