This year I got two:
1. I taught a class about R and data analysis. On Christmas, one of my students wrote, “Thanks for what you taught us on the class. I love your class. I learnt a lot!” I hadn’t taught it before. A few weeks ago I had been abashed to discover a midterm exam from Phil Spector’s R class at Berkeley. I know Phil and like and respect him. His students had learned a lot more than mine, it seemed. I had consoled myself by thinking that I couldn’t answer some of the questions.
2. Cleaning a cupboard, also on Christmas, I found a “gift” derived from buying a water heater in March. (Buy the water heater, get the “gift”.) It looked like an ordinary glass teapot, which is why I had put it in semi-storage. When I opened the box I discovered it wasn’t. It has a basket where you put the tea and hot water; when the tea is ready you press a button that releases the water into the bottom of the teapot, stopping the brewing. I drink a lot of tea. A month ago I barely knew these things existed. Then I bought one and thought it was wonderful — but small. The uncovered one is the perfect size.