Sometimes, it’s easy to get carried away with the “stuff” on holidays- preparing major meals, worrying about gifts, the house, the details- when in the end, the holidays, at their best, are all about friends and family.  This is your home community- the people who “have” to love you, and despite the fact that they probably aren’t the perfect TV family, they have their own unique appeal.  And I think if you always try to take the opportunity to find what you love about someone, you can spend a whole lot less time taking inventory of their faults, and more time realizing what gifts they bring into your world.

A few months ago, for example, I ran into an old high school friend randomly in Philadelphia.  It’s been super getting to spend time with her again after all these years- I had not seen her for almost 20 years!  She came to Thanksgiving at our house, and I felt like I had a lot to be thankful for- good friends, nice family, and basically pretty blessed all the way around.

Now, family is not without its irritations.  Your family knows how to press your buttons and how to say things that rub you the wrong way in ways strangers never will.  They know how to get in your business and put you right back into that place of teenage angst and awkwardness unlike anyone else on the planet.  But surprisingly, you can let go of this and focus on the good and generous side of people.  It takes a while to develop the ability to look at comments as concern, or advice or an attempt to be helpful, instead of as intrusive.  It takes forever to learn not to take it all so seriously.

I love my family, quirks and all.  I know that the small things that can drive me up a tree are really probably my fault,  just dealing with a new routine, and accommodating the needs of twice as many people as usual.  (I do like cooking, but having a houseful of guests- these people seem to need to eat all the time, you know??? Endless meals and dishes- thank god for dixie plates.)

I lost my Dad when I was 25.  It was really unexpected, and it drove home the point to me to always tell people how I feel, to let them know every day how important they are to me.  Chris Brogan wrote a great poost today about people who were important to him, and I’ll follow that lead, and thank a few of the very many people who have really added so much to my life this past year.

Chris Penn and Chris Brogan– These guys started Podcamp and added me into the mix after they started the Foundation.  I couldn’t have two better friends.  They are kind and generous guys, who inspire me to be my best every day, and to always try new things.

Mark Blevis and Bob Goyetche-Mark and Bob are the heart and soul of Podcasting in Canada, and have a tremendous community.  They are the curators of Canadian podcasting, and put on one of the best conferences ever- Podcasters Across Borders.  I learn something new from them all the time-they are great friends and mentors, and are people you should really get to know, as individuals and as a team.

Andrea Ross of Just One More Book.  Andrea is Mark Blevis’s wife, and I would argue she is the perfect balance to Mark.  She’s smart, funny, thoughtful and determined, and always a voice of reason.  She is amazing and has turned her passion for children’s literature into something so much more- a community that shares the magic of books and their creation with others.  Andrea is fantastic, and I just wish she lived closer, because i would love to be able to sit in the coffee shop with her, discussing books endlessly day after day.

Michelle Wolverton–  Chel, aka Chel Pixie, is a kind and generous person, who always finds a way to help out and make things better.  She is one of the people I feel I can whine to when I am feeling down or less than positive, and she puts up with it.  Chel feels like a sister, and like family, will always tell me when I need to get a life or perspective on an issue.

John Havens, Howard Greenstein, Dan Patterson, Kathryn Jones, Kroosh, Adam Broitman, Eric Skiff, Chef Mark and Jennifer Iannolo, and the whole Podcamp NYC Team.  Podcamp NYC is a major undertaking, and these guys are the best.  It feels weird after the event is over not to talk to these guys every week, so I wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks and that I think you all are spectacular, and I am lucky to know you.

Bill Rowland, Paul Muller, Podcast Steve, Denis Sinkelov, Adam Plante, Rand Bradbury, Linda Mills, Jen Yuan, Li Evans, Beth Harte, Kim, Will, Gloria Bell, Purplecar, Chris Lehmann and all the rest who helped make Podcamp Philly so terrific.  You guys really make me believe in the power of community each and every day.  One of the best accomplishments of 2008 for me was Podcamp Philly and the over $6,000 we raised for Science Leadership Academy.

Matthew Ebel-  Matt has become a hero to my kids- they think he is the coolest thing since sliced bread, and Matt treats them as people, not just fans.  And he’s made the creation of music real to them, a gift that’s important to kids as they start to dream about what’s possible in their lives.

Tammy Munson, Vivian Vasquez, Andy, Joel Mark Witt, Heather Shorter, New Media Jim, Shashi, David Beaudoin, Aaron, and the rest of the DC New Media Crowd- you guys are simply amazing, and always make the trip down to DC seem more worthwhile.

Megin Hatch and Stuart Mark- these two are the life force behind GNM Parents, one of those great projects I get a chance to contribute tidbits to, and something that makes me take a look at my parenting from the outside, making me more thoughtful and aware that parenting is one of the most important things I do.

Everyone who listens to and contributes to the LD Podcast.  I started the show over two years ago, and never would have guessed where it’s taken me.  Everytime my energy seems to flag, magically, someone gives me needed feedback or asks a question that renews my energy and determination to keep going.  helping other parents and educators is truly one of the most rewarding things ever, and it’s brought so much joy into my life.

So, as sappy and maudlin as this may be, thank you to everyone here and the many others who make every day a blessing.    I hope this next year brings as many adventures, challenges, and success stories as last year, although sometimes it’s hard to imagine things could be even better.