A Year of gifts
SOMETIMES THE ROADBLOCKS, SETBACKS, AND HEARTBREAKS OF LIFE TURN OUT TO BE THE GREATEST GIFTS OF ALL . . .
I know there probably isn’t anything new I can write about gratitude. It’s a topic covered by many, and we are constantly reminded of how much we benefit from acknowledging our many blessings. But as we wrap up the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to pause for a minute and simply feel a deep sense of gratitude for my past, my present, and my future. I invite you to do the same.
Our past has brought us to the very place we are at today. Sometimes we have deep regrets for things we’ve done, or perhaps for things we’ve failed to do. The reality is we can’t change the past. We can only look for the lessons and the blessings that have come from our actions. Remember the good and let go of the bad. Cherish the special memories. Repeat the good decisions, try to stop making the poor choices. But never dwell in the past. Feel gratitude for the journey you’ve traveled thus far but keep your eyes forward.
Our future is a beautiful mystery. No one can know what the future holds. We may have years and years ahead of us. Or we may be near the end of our life’s journey and not even know it. Any future at all is a blessing. Looking forward to our own future with a sense of purpose and optimism will make all the difference. How you think about your future will help shape it. Your thoughts are setting the foundation for your future. Build it strong.
Since the past is behind us and the future is unknown, the present is where the magic happens. What we have right now, at this very moment—all those things that make our hearts sing— deserve our gratitude.
I’m thankful for the laughter of my child, a conversation with a dear friend, and a photograph with a loved one. I’m grateful for the leftovers in the fridge from our family’s Thanksgiving Day meal. I’m thankful for my lengthy gift-giving list because that means my life is full of extraordinary people.
Feel gratitude but don’t be afraid to take it a step further and tell people ‘thank you’. If they’ve given you joy in your life, give a little of that joy back to them by letting them know how you feel. Tell them while you still can. You’ll never regret doing something so simple yet so powerful.
So please allow me to take a moment to thank you. If you are reading this post, thank you for coming along on this journey with me. Your support means so much.
Being thankful can be as simple as pausing for a moment to feel joy in the little things.
Life can be hard. Life can be beautiful. Life can be crazy. Life is often all of these things wrapped up in a single day. The point is to focus more on the good than the bad. To focus on the gratitude we feel for having enough.
Today I’m keeping my message short and simple. Practicing gratitude isn’t complicated. Being thankful for all the blessings in our lives is one of the most powerful things we can ever do. Try to make it an integral part of your life, and your blessings will compound. My goal is to practice gratitude, every day.
Do you enjoy the holidays? For many people, long-held family traditions give joy to the season. And aren’t traditions nothing more than routines? Routines followed through the years that now evoke special memories when we experience them again?
In our household, Thanksgiving is the “official” kickoff to the holidays. But truthfully, it usually starts a week or two before the turkey and all the fixings make it to our table.
Yes, I am “one of those.” The tree is up before Thanksgiving. When I was younger, Mom would spend days decorating our home for Christmas. It wouldn’t have felt like the holidays without rooms full of festive decorations. So, needless to say, the routine or tradition of decorating followed me to my own home. Years ago, I’d spend the weekend after Thanksgiving decorating. But over time, we’ve figured out it’s easier to get it up a little earlier. My daughters help with the creative process and together, we transform the house for the coming season. I’ll be sure to share pictures here in my posts closer to Christmas.
Now that the house is ready, it’s time to focus on the food we’ll enjoy on Thanksgiving. I need to make the grocery list, and we should get the turkey into the fridge to start thawing.
Up until a couple of years ago, Mom did all the heavy lifting in regards to our holiday meals. It wasn’t until she began to pass the baton to me that I truly appreciated all the work involved. As was her practice when preparing for significant events, she made a list for me. A simple menu scribbled onto a piece of notepaper that I intend to keep forever and pass it on to my own kids.
We’ll work together over the next week to stay true to Mom’s traditional Thanksgiving meal. I’ve never mastered the art of gravy making, but my sister-in-law has it down to a science. My daughter will make the pie. There will be lots of teamwork to get it all on the table. Over time, I hope to get as efficient at it all as Mom was, but for now, wish us luck!
The one part of our Thanksgiving meal that I have happily “owned” for many years is making the cranberry ice. It’s a sherbet made from lemons, cranberries and lots of sugar. Preparing the cranberry ice used to be Great-aunt Mary’s duty. Eventually, someone new had to take it over, and I raised my hand. For the first few years, results were questionable. But, as with so many things, practice helped (since this dish is only served in our family on Thanksgiving and Christmas, practice can take years!). With any luck, the pretty, frozen concoction will again grace our table on Thursday.
Years ago, once we finished with the feasting of Thanksgiving Day, our holiday weekends often switched to shopping and more decorating. Mom and I used to get up early, put on our holiday sweatshirts and snowflake earrings, and hit the sales. No, we never waited in the massive lines, waiting for doors to open on Black Friday, but we would join the crowds at a more reasonable hour. We’d have our lists in hand—ideas for our family and friends and the gifts we hoped to find for them. As our family grew through marriages and babies, our shopping circle grew, too.
These days, shopping holds less appeal for me. Our kids are older. I’ll still get the shopping done, but not all in one big push before the calendar even turns over to December. We’ve tried to temper our spending and the related stress over finding “the perfect” gift. We’re blessed to need little in the way of material things and find more joy in time spent together.
My best piece of advice to you for the upcoming weeks is don’t forget to make your lists! Get all the "to do's" on a list, chip away at the tasks, and enjoy. Knock a few things off, grab a peppermint mocha or a Christmas cookie for a break, and then get back to it. Preparation helps holidays happen and can reduce the last-minute stresses that so many people complain about in the weeks to come.
There is much to love about the upcoming holidays. It’s often the simplest of things that make us smile.
The beauty of twinkling lights, both inside and outside, chasing away the dark of early evenings and the cold of winter. The scents of our favorite foods, cooking in the oven and candles glowing on the hearth. Nothing says December to me like the smell of pine. Even when I walk by a particular grove of pine trees in the middle of summer near our cabin, the light fragrance they give off takes my mind back to Christmases past. The holiday tunes we know by heart. The clear chiming of bells.
Life means things change and evolve. Holiday traditions are no different. As our children grow, we’ll have to share them with others, making our time together even more precious. Those around our tables will change. But the real joy of the holidays can be found in the memories we’ve made in the past and the new ones we're making now.
This year we will count our many blessings when we gather around our Thanksgiving table. My heart breaks for so many facing loss and tragedy this year, knowing they won’t be able to experience the same joy of routine and traditions. We’ll also wish the people ringing our table would still include those we’ve lost, but we’ll be thankful for the many memories we will always hold dear.
If the turkey is a little dry or the cranberry ice isn’t properly frozen, it won’t matter. Because that’s not what the holidays are really about.
I wish you the very best for this Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays. May you find joy in the little things and find ways to help others less fortunate to feel the light of kindness. Kim
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a self-published fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!