Every year at this time people start posting all of the things they're thankful for in their lives on Facebook. I've never participated in that. It just doesn't feel like me. But I do like to put my gratitude out there, so I usually write a blog post. It doesn't change much year to year I guess because I'm a simple girl with a pretty simple life. There's of course much more I'm thankful for that isn't mentioned here, but that would be a much longer post than anyone would care to read. Here we go...
I am so incredibly thankful for every piece of my life. I'm a big believer that all the parts add up perfectly to the whole. I wouldn't change a moment, even the icky ones, because I want to be right where I am. I'm thankful every single day for the people in my life- from my precious little family, to my great big family, to our amazing friends, to those people who pluck my last nerve. They're all part of my life and who I am, and I'm thankful for them. I'm thankful for our health. We don't have to look far to find someone struggling with a chronic illness, who can't seem to catch a break, or who's fighting for his or her life. There's not a day that passes when I don't consciously acknowledge how incredibly blessed we are to be healthy. I'm thankful for our home. I don't love it, but it's ours. It keeps us warm and sheltered. It welcomed our girls home from the hospital and has been the only home they've ever known. It has taught us many lessons that will weigh heavy when we buy our next house, that's for sure. It has been a place of fun and laughter and family for us- squeaks, creaks, leaks and all. I'm so thankful for our income. In a time when many seek work and can't find it or work half a dozen small jobs to feed their families, we have steady income. And it's enough to afford me the luxury of staying at home with our girls, snuggling, playing, adventuring, teaching, and making memories - where I know I belong. That is something I will never take for granted and never stop thanking God for. I am beyond grateful for the sacrifice of every member of the United States Military and their families. Our lives are what they are because they do what they do. Above all, I'm thankful for God's love and mercy. To live life knowing God's love is a gift I can't describe. Words will never be able to express how thankful I am for a loving, forgiving God.
While a blog post about what I'm thankful for is nice, just like all the posts on Facebook every day, what better way to show gratitude than to give back and pass the blessings on? Each year we kick off the holiday season around the beginning of November by collecting things we no longer need or use and make a huge donation. We take some things to Goodwill, some to a local transitional housing shelter, and some to the food bank. Not only does it feel great to clear some things out of the house that we no longer need or use, but I can't put in words how great it is to know that someone else will be warm, or fed, or clean because we made that donation. We are very fortunate to have parents who love to spoil us and our girls at Christmas. As a result, we always have older, lesser used items we can pass along to those in need. This year, Carsen is 3 1/2. While she doesn't have a concept of what it means to be needy, we did encourage her to help us pick out some of her toys and books she doesn't play with as much, and told her we were going to give them to children who had no toys. She was totally on board and didn't make a peep about the toys getting boxed up.
Donating to local charities and helping the less fortunate in our community will continue to be a part of our holiday season as the girls grow up. In today's world of 7-year olds with cell phones, I refuse to let my children be consumed by a materialistic culture and lose sight of what the holiday season is truly about. Of course, as they get older they'll be able to participate more and will certainly understand more what it means to reach out to others. Hopefully it will help to instill in them a sense of gratitude for what they have and compassion for those who go without.
How are you showing your gratitude this holiday season?