I’ve written various drafts of this concept throughout the years, whether it be for a class assignment in grade school or a journal entry after a long day. For me, it’s easy to get lost in day-to-day routines — running from meeting to meeting, class to class, event to event and so on. Every now and then, I find it helpful to take a step back, take a deep breath and just reflect in order to count my blessings and acknowledge the hardships I’ve overcome. In the midst of chaos — midterm exams, job applications, impending graduation and upcoming holidays — I find there is no better time than now to pause and reflect on what I’m thankful for.
Family. I look forward to the warmth of the fireplace in my family room and the scent of the Christmas candles my mom decorates the house with the day after Halloween. I can already hear the knock-off Christmas songs playing in the Hallmark movies that make my dad, grandpa and I cry. I look forward to fighting with my brother over who gets the bathroom first in the morning and banging on the door because he takes longer showers than I do, even though he has a buzz cut and I have a full head of hair. I can taste the egg sausage souffle my grandma makes once a year and my aunt’s monkey bread that I rarely get a chance to eat because my family is always late on Christmas morning. My arms already feel sore from seeing my cousins who love to try out their nerf guns and helicopters and whatever else they got for Christmas on my body. I can’t wait to sit at the “kids” table for Thanksgiving dinner, even though most of us are over the age of 18. I’m thankful for all of it: the craziness, the frustration, the love. These are the people that make the seven-and-a-half hour drive home worth it.
Friends. Friends are the family that I get to choose. They’re the ones who I tell anything and everything, usually oversharing. They drag me out of bed and convince me to go out with them; they always rationalize some reason why we should go out on a Tuesday. Or they wake me up bright and early to hike eight brutal miles the day after I was convinced to go out. They’re the only ones as obsessed as I am with seasonal cookies during movie nights or watching an entire season of “Modern Family” in one sitting. They get Taylor ham, egg and cheese with me every Saturday morning until the employees know us by name and order. They offer endless support, even when I have been known to bottle up my feelings until it breaks and the glass goes everywhere; even then, they pick up the glass pieces. They make homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese for me when I feel sick, they watch the stars with me and make moon water on full moons, they travel the country to surprise me on my birthday, they check in on my mental health, and they want to see me succeed. I cannot express how grateful I am for the support system of friends I have.
Everything in between. Sunsets, blue-sky days, waking up with my dog, the first frosty morning of the season when the grass gets crunchy, the release of endorphins after a long run, the changing of the leaves, the sound of nothing when I’m deep into a hike, and the warmth of the sun on my skin. The little things that I notice when I’m completely alone are often the ones I’m most grateful for. These are the moments that make me truly fall in love with life.
Upon reflection, I have much to look forward to this holiday season and much more to be thankful for. The next time I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed out about something, I’ll simply add to the list. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, no matter how difficult the situation may seem, I can overcome it with a little help from family, friends and everything in between.