The gift of love and support I get from John and from family helps me every day. John assures me, as he did the day we were married almost a year and half ago, that he is "in it for the long haul." So the fact that I am holed up with books and writing during what should be my winter break doesn't bother him. My family members ask me about school, rejoice with me when I get the chance to teach at university again, and listen to my ideas and my rants, just as they did when I was a classroom teacher. I sense that my sister Mary (a retired second grade teacher) and I are about to have the conversation we often had in earlier decades, about starting a school of our own, staffing it with all the best people we know. I know many good teachers. I even mentioned the idea of starting a charter school to my colleagues from the writing project when I saw a few of them this week. The fact that I can sit and talk and imagine with all of these dear ones is a gift.
Each day is a gift: each day that I can get up early, walk on my own legs to my desk, brew some coffee to fuel my way through the wee hours of reading and writing, pull on weather-appropriate clothing to go out in the air and walk, breathing in and breathing out. The sights and sounds and smells of nature are gifts which also fill me with amazement almost constantly. Even now, in the depth of cold, dark winter, I find much beauty to sustain me. These gifts surprise me again every morning.