2016 in Review: Your Favorites, My Favorites

It’s year three of this fun (well, I think it’s fun) tradition, where I highlight the five posts that WordPress claims were my most viewed for the year, and then the five that were my own favorites.  Which, for some reason, are never the same!

None of the top five readers’ favorites were even written this year.  I’m not sure what that says about the state of my blogging, but probably nothing good.  At least my posts have staying power!

YOUR FAVORITES

There’s Always That 5 Percent

I wrote this tribute to a high school teacher in 2012, but it gets periodic resurgences in popularity when it is discovered by one of her other students and shared on Facebook.  I always learn something new when this happens.  Be sure to read the comments for even more great stories!

We have so many teachers in a lifetime–too many to count or remember.  But “there’s always that 5%” who make a lasting impression, and Sister Louise was one of a kind.

Hidden Mothers

Another 2012 post, which was featured on BlogHer in 2015.

Sometimes when I walk in cemeteries and look at the graves of little babies, I will say to them, “I see your names.  Today someone remembers you, even if everyone else has forgotten.  Today someone cares that you were here.”  And I find myself wanting to say the same thing to these faceless mothers.

Dear Mom in the Pew

I try to reshare this one around Easter, to encourage moms with rowdy children not to be afraid to take them to church.

If during Easter Mass some cranky submarine Catholic turns around and tells you that your babbling toddler is “ruining it for everyone else,” (and yes, this once happened to me) I want you to know that if he thinks that he doesn’t know what “it” is and he is the one who is ruining things.

Lifelong Marriage: Not for the Faint of Heart

This was first published in 2010, and probably owes this year’s burst of popularity to being featured on YourTango.

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We have been through some very, very dark times.  the storms of life have buffetted us just as they have everyone else.  We are fortunate that usually we find shelter in each other.   But love isn’t a feeling: it’s a decision. 

Five Life Lessons from the Godfather

This one is from 2015, but the movie–and the lessons–are timeless.

 

Now that I knew what was going to happen, I was able to appreciate the nuances of the film, particularly the ground-breaking portrayal of gangsters as complex characters who love their families and look upon what they do as “just business.”

MY FAVORITES

We Didn’t Start the Fire

My first reflections on the results of the 2016 Presidential Election.

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On Election Day  many of us headed off to the polls excited about a bright new world full of promise and possibility and without glass ceilings.

The next morning we awakened to an America we didn’t recognize, a country we used to love but feel that we don’t even know any more.

Catholic Voting 101: A Guide for the Confused

I am super-proud of this attempt to explain voting to my fellow Catholics.  And this post is getting stumbled quite a bit, so maybe it will do some good.

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It’s not your business how your fellow Catholics vote.  It’s not their business how YOU vote! You don’t get to tell them they are going to hell and they don’t get to tell you that you are excommunicated.

September 11: Remember the Love

A 15th anniversary reflection on the events of 9/11.

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Our country has changed since 9/11 and I don’t think it has changed for the better.  We have become an angrier country, a frightened country, a deeply divided country.  That’s not the America I love and that’s not what I want to remember about 9/11.

My Grandfather’s Chair

I was so happy to inherit my grandfather’s old chair a year ago that I had to write an essay about it.

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Granddaddy died on September 24, 1980.  It was my first encounter with death.  I remember entering the house for the first time and dreading the sight of that empty chair.

Blessed are the Merciful

This was inspired by several tragic deaths that occurred this year and the over-the-top judgmental internet response.

Blesssed are the Merciful- Showing Mercy to Parents Who Need It

The same hate that has polarized the country over issues like gun control and presidential politics has seeped into every area of public discussion.  We are all firmly entrenched in our little self-righteous camps, unwilling to listen to one another or to extend any benefit of the doubt or God forbid any mercy to ANYONE.

That’s all for this year.  If you enjoyed these, please share the post with anyone you think might like my blog!   Need more to read? Check out the best of 2015 and 2014!

I’m linking up at Revolution of Love with other bloggers who like to do this too.  So if you are looking for a quick way to sample the best of some great blogs, click the picture below.

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12 in 2016: A Year in Pictures

This is a little exercise I’ve been taking part in for three years now.  It’s always fun to look back over the year, and this year I am struck by two things: 1) How much Lorelei used my phone to take pictures of Webkinz this year and 2) How many adventures I had that I did not share on my blog, even though I meant to.  I plan to remedy that shortly, but in the meantime here are some favorite pictures and memories from 2016, proving that it wasn’t ALL bad!

JANUARY:  Our oldest son turned 22.  We celebrated with a family dinner at our favorite sushi place, Lemongrass, which sadly closed later in the year.

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FEBRUARY: A BIG birthday party for my husband, pictured here being toasted by our “big kids.”

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MARCH:  One of so many pictures from a delightful weekend visit to Chattanooga, just a short drive from Knoxville and full of things to see and do.  I have so many beautiful pictures from that weekend and still plan to blog about this trip.

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APRIL:  I don’t have as many hiking pictures this year, because we didn’t hike as much, something else I hope to change soon!  This one was taken at the Forks of the River Trails in the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness, my favorite hiking destination.

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MAY:  Y’all, these chairs were my Mother’s Day present and I love them so much.  I now actually sit occasionally.  I can look at my garden, read, and occasionally nap in my chair–although I sometimes have to sit in my less preferred seat if our cat has already claimed the other one.

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JUNE:  My husband’s uncle died this year and this picture was taken at his funeral.  We were so fortunate to have visited with him just a couple of weeks before.

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JULY:  This was also taken at Forks of the River, during the annual sunflower extravaganza.  If you live in our near Knoxville, you don’t want to miss this.

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AUGUST:  Obligatory cat picture here.  This time it’s Mace and Echo, shortly before we went from two cats to four (which, if you are interested, is kind of a lot of cats).

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SEPTEMBER:  How long it had been since I went to a Tennessee Volunteers game I can’t even remember, but it had been a long time!  Win or lose, there is nothing like it.

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OCTOBER:  I took this in Cades Cove, in the Smoky Mountains, when Emily and I went up early one morning to take in the leaves before the crowds arrived.

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NOVEMBER:  After we went to vote, Emily, Lorelei, and I went downtown to have lunch and pay tribute to this trio of Tennessee suffragettes.  It’s still painful to think about how happy and full of hope we were that afternoon.

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DECEMBER:  Merry Christmas! These Santas are so special to our family.  My grandmother collected them over a period of time from Lowe’s and displayed them every year.  At some point, as she often did, she turned them over to me and my kids always loved organizing them.  At the burned down house (that’s how we refer to it around here), the Santas were displayed in the basement and thus survived the inferno.  They are soot-stained but precious to us.

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And there you have it!  If you want to see prior years in pictures, just click right here:  2013, 2014, 2015.

I’m linking up with others who are doing the same thing at Revolution of Love.  Click the image below to visit the rest of the collection!

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