I still remember the delight I felt on my 12th birthday — not because I was turning 12, although that sounds so much more grown up than 11. It was because I was turning 12 on the 12th day of the 12th month. That alignment of numbers seemed to make the day more special somehow (although I wasn’t then, nor am I now, into numerology).

Multiply that delight for this year. This year, my birthday falls on 12/12/12. Not only that, but I was born in 1956 and I will be 56 on the 12th.

A birthday always seems to me to be a good time to look back on the previous year and give thanks for all the good things that happened (and possibly for the bad, as well). I’m doing this reflecting today rather than on the 12th, because on the 12th we’re having a special blog-party for the final month of 12 x 12 in 2012. So, click on the magic words for 12 birthday reflections (I had to make it 12, didn’t I?).

1. The year’s gratitude starts just a bit before the 12th of December, 2011, actually. I am so grateful to Emma Walton Hamilton for enthusiastically picking up on my idea of having a Facebook Group for the Children’s Book Hub, and for entrusting me with the role of co-administrator along with her. I have so enjoyed working with this group over the past year. We’re up to 194 members and there’s always room for more! If you’re a writer, illustrator or editor of children’s books (aspiring or established) and you’re on Facebook, please check us out!

2. Also, I continue to be grateful for the full Children’s Book Hub, and Emma’s wonderful monthly Expert Interview and Q&A sessions. I have learned more than I could have dreamed possible through this resource and Emma’s teaching.

3. I’m grateful for my family — in the first part of this year, we said goodbye to Dad’s youngest brother and his wife as they left this life within weeks of each other; and to the widow of Dad’s oldest brother not long after those two deaths. They are deeply missed, but I am so grateful that they were a part of my life for as long as they were. On Dad’s side of the family, my generation is now the oldest generation, and that label will take a little getting used to. I cherish my family.

4. While I’m still thinking about family, I want to say how much my cousins mean to me. I never had brothers and sisters, but my cousins have filled that role so well. Thank you.

5. I also cherish my friends, both the ones nearby, with whom I lunch on a fairly regular basis, and the ones further away. Thank goodness for email and facebook! I’m delighted at all the connections I’ve made on Facebook — including receiving a friend request from the wonderful man who taught me Grade 7, 8 and 9 French and Grade 9 Drama (You’ll get to read more about him next Monday.) I’m doubly, triply, enormously grateful for the friends who dropped whatever they were doing to stay with me in the two days after my fall, when I wasn’t supposed to be alone. (And for those who weren’t able to help, but listened to me on the phone, and supported me in whatever way they could.) THANK YOU!

6. I’m particularly grateful for my chum Jan. Not only do we travel well together (she went with me on the Mousical jaunt in November), but we keep in touch daily by email, and we’re working on a novel series together!

7. As you already know, I so appreciated the opportunity to attend the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference in July. I hope, hope, HOPE to be able to be there again next summer.

8. It was wonderful to go back to Sag Harbor in November and visit with two of the key people in my summer experience, Kate McMullan and Emma Walton Hamilton. You two women are a joy in my life, and I am so grateful for you!

9. This year it was such a delight to be able to interview so many people, with such diverse interests and talents. Thank you to all of you! I so appreciated your willingness to participate so fully, to answer my questions, and to be so gracious about the whole experience. The names are listed in the sidebar under interviews, if you missed any of them.

10. MOUSICAL stands out among the many things for which I’m grateful this year. It meant so much to me to be able to be there, in memory of Mum; to see the production in its developmental stage (and to hope to see it on Broadway some day!); and to share the whole experience with my chum, Jan.

11. I’m also immensely grateful to the people who spent so much time with us at both performances. Being with them was a joy.

12. I won’t say too much about 12×12, as that gets its own post on Wednesday, nor will I say much about my writing, as that will get its own post on the 31st. I just want to say I am grateful for the online communities I’m a part of, and for the help and support I receive for my writing endeavors.

The singer John Bucchino has written a song called Grateful, which has been published as a picture book with accompanying CD through the Julie Andrews Collection. One line of the song sums up the way I feel as I look forward to my birthday in a couple of days:

“Truly blessed, and duly grateful.”

What are you grateful for today?

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