Now that the election season is over and I can take a deep breath and relax a little bit, I’ve started realizing the holiday season is in full swing.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays and the weeks surrounding both are so fun for me.
I love the anticipation that surrounds Christmas and I love that the month of November signals a feeling of gratitude and thankfulness among my friends and family.
I start to get a warm, fuzzy feeling thinking about all the good food, laughter and family time I’ll be getting in the next couple of months.
It’s shocking for me to think that Thanksgiving is just two weeks away.
It really doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since I was celebrating the start of a new year. With a little reflection, though, I realize a lot has changed in the last 11 months.
This year has been one of growth, maturing and change for me. These are all exciting things. And, they also mean that this will be the first year that I will spend living away from home on the holidays.
I am blessed, though, that I’m just about an hour from my parent’s house where we’ll be celebrating together on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.
I feel so sad for those people who live too far away from their families to spend the holidays together.
My brother lives in Arizona and, sadly, there have been many Thanksgivings and Christmas’s that we’ve spent without him. We miss him everyday and count down the days until he and his two kids get to come visit.
They’ll be home for Christmas this year and I am so excited to hug my brother and kiss my niece and nephew. I’m most excited to spend as much time with them as possible.
The older I get the more I realize that’s what the holidays are all about.
The world would like us to believe the holidays are about having the biggest dinner, giving the best gifts, having the most lights decorating our house or having the best tree shining out the windows of our homes.
But, if that were really what it was all about, the holidays would be a horrible time.
If it was really all about money, greediness and competition, none of us would get that warm, fuzzy feeling we get around the first of November.
These special days are times to spend with the people we care about the most, to reflect on all the good things in life we have to be thankful for and to make preparations for the new year.
I love seeing all the Facebook statuses from my friends about what they’re thankful for this year. Many of them are participating in a 30-day challenge where they will post a different thing they are thankful for for each day in November.
Many of them remark about being thankful for their spouses, their children, their families in general or their jobs.
Some of them simply say, “Today I am thankful I was given the opportunity to see another day.”
One of my friends was having a bad day and wrote that, as horrible as it sounds, she can’t think of anything to be thankful for on a day like this.
I was glad to see that later that night she changed her mind.
She, too, was able to say she was thankful for another day.
If any of us lose hope, start to feel lonely or are just having a bad day, it can be hard to think of anything in life worth being thankful for.
But, I am so blessed to have these reminders on my Facebook each morning.
If I’m thankful for nothing else, I am always thankful for a new day.
When I pray at night I always thank God for waking me up that morning. I may have messed up the day with my sins or my mistakes, but I am at least thankful I had the chance to try.
I haven’t been participating in the 30-day challenge because I’ve been so busy with work I knew I would get behind and never be able to catch up.
But, I thought I’d use my column this week to remind myself of the thing in life I’m most thankful for: love.
For the past several days I’ve been reflecting on how good it feels to know I am loved.
From the love extended to me by my amazing parents, my sweet boyfriend and my beautiful friends to the complicated relationships I have with my siblings, love is truly what being alive is all about for me.
If I never felt love, I wouldn’t imagine I would feel like I have much to be thankful for.
I’m glad to have parents that would do anything for me, a boyfriend who reminds me how special I am all the time, friends who text me just to tell me they miss me and nieces and nephews who think I’m smart, pretty, fun and worth looking up to.
OK, I’m done gushing about all the love and my warm-fuzzy feelings about the holiday.
And, I’ll end by reminding you guys to use this time of the year to reflect on the all the good things in your lives, too. Spend some time with your families, make dates with your friends and enjoy the peacefulness that comes with the holiday season.