When my husband brought up the Christmas tree from the basement the day before Thanksgiving, he made a comment, “This year has gone by so fast. Seems like yesterday when I took the tree apart and stored it downstairs.” Indeed it has been a whirlwind year marked by happiness, fulfilment as well as disappointment and heartbreak.

Our oldest child Jane is going to graduate from college in May 2015 and has landed her dream job with a fast growing digital marketing company. We were given another opportunity to marvel Jane’s unique style : when she really wants something, she will give her best and go get it. Michelle went on her first-ever professional interview in September and was immediately offered internship for the summer of 2015. Jake scored 99 percentile on the Cogat test and was placed in Honors math. He plays hockey and takes fencing, archery and TKD lessons. Seeing him grow in maturity and self-control has been the greatest joy and comfort for both my husband and me. Since entering Honors math, the amount of homework has gone from almost nothing to quite a lot. These days, father and son are spending quality time together in the evening working on the math problems, which allows me to read my favorite books after making dinner and cleaning up.

Having been with GE Capital for over a year now, I still like it and the wonderful people I work with. I have finished my second book in Chinese 《从里到外的幸福》 and am hoping that it will be published in 2015. My third book will be a Chinese fiction. I will pen it when the plots and stories are formed in my head. Another highlight of 2014 is that I became the spokeswoman of a jewelry company in Gangxi, China. Looking gorgeous is one of my favorite things to do and now I have a reason to get more clothes and jewelry. What a deal!

Healthy living has been a continuous theme in the Xu household. Joe and I continue to eat healthy, work out frequently and dance at least a couple of times a week. Comparing old dance performances to recent ones, we have improved tremendously. Dancing has brought us closer and made us more confident and fun loving people. I remember once Joe and I had a disagreement and became mad at each other. Before the night was over, he said to me “Let’s dance.” We did and the feeling of anger simply dissipated, no apologies were necessary.

The biggest disappointment for me was being left behind from a family vacation to Dominican Republic on Mother’s Day because Michelle’s passport had expired without us knowing it. However we managed to turn the unfortunate event to a precious mother-and-daughter bonding time. I am proud of the decision I made that day and I want my daughter to know that she is much more important to me than a fun vacation on the beach under the sun.

Watching Michelle heartbroken after an unexpected breakup from her boyfriend was gut-wrenching for a mother. As a family, we helped her get back on her feet. Dad comforted and assured our little girl during those difficult days. As a result, father-and-daughter relationship reached new height. A week later, when Joe took Michelle to the airport to spend a few days with her girlfriend, she hugged him and said “Daddy, I love you!” We never told Michelle what to do, but I think she is making the right decision by not reconciling with her ex-boyfriend or rushing into new relationships. Our little girl is turning into a wise and self-assured woman!

As this year is approaching its end, I feel profoundly grateful for family, friendship, health and abundant happiness. I am looking forward to a brand new year with its new promises, challenges and opportunities.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!