Beverly Beckham

Your own personal year in review

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, was invented in 1939 by an employee at Montgomery Ward as a Christmas promotional gimmick. In many forms, he still draws a crowd. Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, was invented in 1939 by an employee at Montgomery Ward as a Christmas promotional gimmick. In many forms, he still draws a crowd. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
By Beverly Beckham
Globe Columnist / January 2, 2011

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Last week, when it was the old year still and not this brand new one, I Googled “year in review’’ to see whether I could find out who wrote the quiz my family takes at the end of every December.

The quiz is simple — personal, not political — so there’s no special knowledge required.

And it doesn’t probe, so it’s not embarrassing. It’s an easy “let’s get together and fill-in-the-blanks, then let’s read our answers aloud and laugh a lot’’ kind of survey. We’ve been doing this for only three years, over dinner at a local restaurant, but already it’s a tradition.

I never did find out who wrote this quiz or where it came from. I Googled and dozens of “year in review’’ lists popped up, but not this one. The Year in Review 1949 appeared almost instantly, who knows why, asking impossible questions like, “What chemical element was discovered in 1949: Einsteinium, Fermium, Plutonium, Berkelium.’’ (Berkelium is the answer.) And “In skating, who won the women’s World Figure Skating Championship? Alena Vrzánová, Carol Heiss, Sonja Henie, Jeanette Allwegg.’’ (Alena Vrzánová)

The Year in Review 1939 came up next (again, why?), exposing this interesting fact: What department store created Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Sears Roebuck, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, or Montgomery Ward?

(The answer? Montgomery Ward. Rudolph, it seems, was invented by an employee, Robert May, as a Christmas promotional gimmick.)

There were a lot of quizzes like this, which test your knowledge (or lack thereof) and give you scores and pause because, really, does everyone besides me know that Newfoundland is Canada’s 10th province?

There were also a zillion personal, what-have-you-done-with-your-life very introspective lists with questions like “What was your biggest triumph this year? What was the smartest decision you made? What increased your happiness and joy? Who did you help? What are the top three lessons you learned?’’

What I learned from reading all these lists is to keep it simple. So here is our simple quiz, compliments of anonymous. Gather the family, fill in the blanks, and share what you wrote. Then tuck away the paper until next year, when it will be time to take it out and do it all over again.

In 2010, I gained ____.

I lost ____.

I stopped ____.

I started ____.

I was hugely satisfied by ____.

And frustrated by ____.

I am so embarrassed that I ____.

Once again, I ____.

Once again, I did not _____

The biggest physical difference between me last December and this December is ____.

I loved spending time ____.

Why did I spend even two minutes ____?

I should have spent more time ____.

I regret buying ____.

I will never regret buying ____ even though with that money I could have bought ____.

I ____ way too much.

I didn’t ____ enough.

____ drove me crazy.

Was ____ crazier than ever last year? Or was it me?

The most relaxing place I went was ____.

I feel so ____ when I write that down.

Why did I go to ____?

The best thing I did for someone else was ____.

The best thing I did for myself was ____.

The best thing someone did for me was ____.

The one thing I’d like to do again, but do it better, is ____.

Beverly Beckham can be reached at