My first winter in Albany, as a way to keep track of all my friends now scattered to the wind, I made a Christmas card for my family of one. A Hoëliday Card, as a jokingly called it. It was received very well by friends and family, so I did it again the following year. Now in its third year, my Christmas Card tradition has ballooned a bit out of control - I sent more than 80 cards out this year ! I have fun with it though and many friends have come to expect the Hoël card, which they proudly display on their fridge - some keep it up long after the holidays are over!

2019's card, in all it's glory.

This year, along with the card, I decided to include a brief recap of my 2019. It definitely hasn’t been the best year of my life, with some noticeable setbacks and personal fallings, but I still had a few grand adventures, surrounded by friends and family. So I tried to keep this somewhat upbeat. I hope people enjoyed receiving the brief recap of my year in their mail.

Hello friends,

As this Holiday Card project grows in scope, I thought I might include a brief summary of my year to complement the card I hope you will proudly display on your fridge.

2019 was a year of ups and downs on which to wrap up the decade. Yes, I literally climbed some mountains. I also hit some personal setbacks and disappointments. A mixed bag of a year, though one still filled with adventures, friends, and laughs.

Easter in Durham with Maman and her rabbit carrot cake // Friendly crew for an off-road bike ride in Western Massachusetts

January started off with a broken wrist, the result of taking risks on the mountain bike in icy conditions. Injury didn’t slow me down though, and my winter continued with a joyful dose of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and hours of Great British Baking Show –inspired bakes.

With the Spring thaw, I decided to challenge myself to run a marathon. I spent a month on it, ran the 26.2 miles around my house, then promptly returned to bikes. At work, I took a 4-week long training course to learn the engineering behind running the electric grid, capped off with visits to some of New York’s most impressive power plants. In April, my life changed when I found a bar that offered a $1 oyster happy hour special.

I bought a fancy camera to kickstart the Summer. One of those with detachable lenses, so you know it’s the real deal. It served me well in chronicling my two week trip to France (the first time back since 2014!), where I visited family, biked all around the countryside, and ate and drank way too much. The rest of summer passed in a blur of hiking trips, bike races, and visits to friends in Montreal, Boston, and New York City.

I closed out the warm season with a two-day hike up a – fittingly – snowy mountain. Though I nearly froze to death in an Adirondack lean-to that night, the excursion was a reminder of how beautiful Upstate New York is, and of the close friendships I’ve built here in the last couple years.

Little visit to Mamie during my vacation to France and Bretagne… // …where I had brought my bike for 2 weeks of exploring the Breton countryside

The first November snowstorms forced me inside, where I began experimenting with new hobbies: I borrowed a sewing machine and learned to transform cloths into clothes. I got more creative with my cooking, trying new, exotic recipes. I dragged friends to play new board games. I went and saw all the latest and greatest movies. I taught myself some coding skills and built amusing little computer tools. The key to Winter is staying busy enough that you don’t notice how cold and dark it is.

Hiking with my friend Mike to the top of a snowy Adirondack peak // Dancing in Montreal while watching a professional bike race cross the city

I’m curious to see what the next decade brings, if we’ll get our own version of the roaring 20s or if climate doom will dampen the party mood. Either way, I feel my time in Albany is coming to end. Where to next, I’m still not sure, but you can be sure that next year, I’ll send another photoshopped masterpiece and fill you in on all the details.

Joyeux Noël, happy holidays, and best wishes for 2020!