It is boxing day. The house is upside down. There are things to be done. I am sitting here feeling rich; feeling blessed; feeling incredibly lucky. Here are five things for which I am grateful at this very moment:
- My extended family – Yesterday, my extended family got together for Christmas. Sometimes, I find these days overwhelming; sometimes I come home feeling hurt by some member of my family; sometimes I come home feeling invisible. Last night, I came home feeling lucky. There were 15 of us for dinner; my sisters, our father, our spouses, some of our children and some of their boyfriends and girlfriends. We all contributed to the meal. We all brought one relatively inexpensive gift that we exchanged in a game that involved a lot of laughter. And we sang Christmas carols terribly. The food was good; the conversation was pleasant; there was laughter and warmth. I came home feeling lucky. I came home feeling grateful for my extended family, for these chaotic gatherings, and for the sense of connection they provide me.
- A renewed appreciation for gifting – This year, my husband, my kids and I all agreed to buy our gifts for each other from Plan Canada, a charitable organization that does work in developing countries. Between the four of us, we spent $600 on goats, wells, birth certificates (that protect children from slavery), mango trees, newborn check-ups, malaria nets and beehives, that will be distributed in communities that need them. These were our gifts to each other. As we opened each gift card, we read a small statement about what the gift could mean for the people who received them and we felt humbled. We also felt grateful that we had spent money for each other on a gift that could be so useful and important to someone else. It gave meaning to they day for each of us; it stripped the consumerism out of Christmas; it renewed my appreciation for gifting.
- Time together as a family – All four of us have two weeks off work to live together under one roof. With my husband travelling so much these days, my son off at college, and my daughter working so many nights, the four of have been together very little over the last year. With my daughter leaving for university next year and my son finishing school next year, I know that our time as a family unit is coming to an end. So, I am very grateful for this time we will have together. It is a gift; a gift that will become increasingly rare over the next few years.
- Time away – We are heading up to Haliburton, Ontario to stay in a cabin for four days. This place has 30 km of groomed cross-country ski trails that are woven through a beautiful sugar maple forest. If we are lucky there will be enough snow to make good use of these trails. After a busy year of 12-hour days spent working and commuting, I can hardly wait to be up in this little cabin where our lives will revolve around cooking, board games, reading and skiing. I also feel grateful that both my son and daughter can join us….and that they are willing to join us! At 21 and 18, I know they have many other pressures and priorities in their lives, and I am so happy that they are willing and able to spend these four days with their Dad and I.
- My kids are becoming well adjusted adults – I feel grateful to see my kids becoming adults who are happy and loving; who like each other; who have friends; who have direction in their lives. What more could we ask for as parents?
What are you grateful for??