The news media at this time of year is full of people looking back over the year that is drawing to a close. It seems everyone tries to identify what goes on the list of what was the "best of" and the "worst of." I thought I would try that this year too.

Maybe because it happened so recently, I quickly decided the best sports event of this year was seeing the Gopher women's basketball team beat Auburn. It was pretty exciting and both teams were really scrappy. Seeing them in person is so different than watching on television and I spent some time putting faces, names and numbers together in my memory, at least for this year.

When I mentioned to Spouse Roger about my pick for best sporting event, he said that for him it was the Gopher football team's win over Nebraska. That made me stop and think, because I have to agree. It was incredibly exciting, even the game itself (maybe because I am finally starting to know a little about football!). But also it was an Event with a capital E because it had been about a thousand years since the Gophers beat Nebraska in football, and, as he said, "I didn't think it would ever happen again in my lifetime."

So the women's game with Auburn was the best basketball event of the year and the win over Nebraska was the best football event of 2013.

The best live music event of the year for me was the TCGMC (a.k.a. Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus) holiday concert titled "Star of Wonder." Again, it is also the most recent event in that category, but it was simply fantastic. My mother always preferred to hear male voices; I think I have inherited that characteristic because nothing compares to hearing these 130-plus men sing. And, of their three-concerts-per-year schedule, this one was by far the best.

Likely, the best travel experience this year was when we visited the World War II memorial sites in Hawaii. I had sort of given up ever getting to those incredible sites, because the sun-filled islands were just not high on our travel list. But when we were asked to join Roger's daughter, spouse and friends in a delightful and upscale condominium for a week, Hawaii moved right up on the list.

Everyone likes to name the best restaurant of the year and this year I would give that vote to the Sol del Mexico, the Mexican restaurant on Highway 52 at Cannon Falls. We try to time our trips by there at mealtime, usually lunch, so we can stop in. It's not just that the food is great, but it is the quintessential American success story in the making, at least I hope that will be the case. No matter what time of day or day of the week, it is always the same two young Hispanic men working; they obviously have a stake in the business. Once I asked if they ever get a day off; the answer was no. We're doing our little part to help the business succeed.

We do like to eat Thai food and are regulars at our friend's flagship Sawatdee restaurant in the big city. But this year, the best food eaten at home was Thai food cooked by another dear friend when she was visiting from Bangkok. Day after day, I was in the kitchen watching how she did things. We never ran out of things for me to learn from her and, of course, we also never got tired of eating the results.

Another category in which a lot of people like to identify their favorite is movies. That was easy for us: it was "42," the Jackie Robinson story. It was even easier because it was also the only movie we went to all year. Maybe we will do better this next year. That could be a New Year's resolution, but I doubt that we would find anything better than "42."

While I am not a big fan of shopping, there is one time when I really look forward to it. That is when Cousin Ginger and I get to go to the Gilroy outlet mall in California. It had been about six years since our last shopping spree and, at Thanksgiving, we had an afternoon devoted to just that. While I spent less than $20 in total, Cousin Ginger did much better and we also had a lot of laughs. So that gets the vote as my best shopping experience of the whole year.

I did spend some time trying to think of the worst experiences of the year. Thankfully, nothing stands out. However, if there is a category for saddest thing that has happened, I would have to say that it is a growing realization of a process. I am sad that we are losing "my" Honor Flight alumni. More and more, in response to a birthday card or other greetings I have sent, I receive back in the mail a copy of an obituary from the widow or a son or daughter. I don't know about their passing away until it is too late to even go to the funeral, because most of them live beyond the reach of our news media. That happened too many times this year.

It's been a wonderful year, with many "best of" experiences. It's our wish that everyone has those same good memories and also another great year ahead.