Your Year in Review

Ken is the Yin to my Yang (or is that backwards?  I don’t know), the creme to my Twinkie, the helium in my balloon, the up to my down, whatever metaphor you want to use here (frankly, I’m juvenile enough that they all sound hysterically sexual in nature), but I swear to you, that man has a preternatural understanding of what I need before I even know I need it.

Case in point:  I’ve been very “What am I doing important with my life?  What am I leaving behind?  Why do I do this wife/mom/teacher/self-proclaimed agoraphobic gig day after day after…?” lately.  Yes, recently I’ve been every bit as thrilling to live with as I sound.

Ken working on this year’s slideshow

But today- today!– Ken started putting together his annual family picture slideshow.  He takes our pictures from the past 365 days, sets them to carefully selected music, and creates a sort of “year in review” for us.  The slideshows always make me tear up.  Always.  And while watching his rough edits of this year’s show, I was overwhelmed by how good and beautiful my life is.  Seeing picture after picture of my gorgeous family showed me how I lose sight of the forest for the trees, and this existence that I sometimes feel weighted down by is actually more breathtakingly wonderful than I realize.

For example, this year alone- this year that before the slideshow I would have grumbled was “messy and inane and insignificant”, contained a First Confession, First Holy Communion, a new baby, and a Baptism.  This “insignificant” year held more spiritual milestones than many people witness in a decade, and there I was, unobservant and ungrateful.

Beyond the extraordinary, watching Ken’s video showed me how much my family enjoys each other.  Seeing picture after picture of every day mundane life became almost too much to look at when I saw the happiness and joy that was evident in most every picture- even pictures taken at the stupidest and most common of events.  Look!  the boys are blowing dandelions in the front yard- bliss!  Look!  we’re driving home from a day of errands, watch how everyone cracks up when a particular song comes on the radio!  All this contentment and sense of belonging that I don’t see at the end of the day when I berate myself for all my failures as a mother- on display in Ken’s Year in Review!

I see all the people who love us, come to visit.  I see family, friends, all coming to our home to share in our life, and the good times we had together, this in stark contrast to the isolation I sometimes swear marks my days.

I can’t tell you what good medicine Ken’s videos are.  I can’t even show you, since we’re currently unable to figure out how to upload iPhoto slideshows onto the blog (besides, the video is right now running at 30 minutes, and no matter how much you love us, you don’t want to sit through 30 minutes of Clan Donaldson slideshows), but I can urge you to try the same thing in your home.  Go through your phone’s pictures from the last year and slap them together somehow.  You will be amazed by how beautiful your life is when you get to take a step back and look at it.

Cari Donaldson


Cari Donaldson lives on a New England farm with her high school sweetheart, their six kids, and a menagerie of animals of varying usefulness. She is the author of Pope Awesome and Other Stories, and has a weekly podcast about homesteading at

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  • Micaela

    I’m just emotional enough that reading about you tear up about your video makes ME tear up. Criminy. I’m a mess. But I’ll take your advice and give it a try anyway.

  • I lurv this! Your life truly is beautiful and a reflection of God’s unending glory. AND it’s Saturday. Happy happy!

  • chaco

    Nothing “Hits The Spot” like a Grateful Mama. I bet this has much to do with why “Heaven’s Peace Plan” deals with lightening the weight on a Lady’s Heart. [“Make reparation(console) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary” (Fatima Revelations 1917) ] “You will have troubles in the world, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16: 33) – “I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2: 25). “Rejoice Queen Mother, Your Son our God has gone into the depths of darkness & illumined it with the VICTORY OF DIVINE MERCY. It has penetrated the hardness of our selfish vanity & softened our Hearts into praise & thanks for God, who longs to share His Glorious Love with us.”