The time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas is by far, spiritually, my favorite time of the year. It's that time of the year that you finally get a chance, albeit short and small chance, to slow down and really appreciate the year that is coming to a close.
Okay, I should back up a month - it starts in September for me. The sun is warm and shinning, a slight breeze and the temperature is around 75. The colors around you are bright and peaceful, the leaves are falling and it is downright just beautiful to look at. You can't help but smile. Only problem is this time of year only lasts for about a good two weeks before it turns cold, raining and dreary.
Then comes a time to reflect on the past year and be thankful for what you have accomplished and what you have gained in your life. Also a time to be thankful for what you have avoided or loss.
For me, this time of year is a reminder of how lucky I am in life to be living where I do, doing what I do and with the people I do it with. It all revealed itself when I was home for Christmas. I was able to take a week vacation off and really relax and enjoy my time. Some of it was doing absolutely nothing, but the majority of it was laughing and singing and running around chasing my 3-year-old niece and 6-year-old nephew around the farm.
Last month, one of our Farm Progress editors did a '30 Days of Thanksgiving' blog post. Then on Christmas Day, I saw this post circulating on my Facebook news feed. It was a newspaper snippet that someone had posted and it read:
I am Thankful for….
•The taxes I pay because it means that I am employed.
•The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
•My shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
•A lawn that has to be mowed, windows that have to be washed and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
•The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.
•All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
•The lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.
•The huge piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.
•The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I am alive.
This got me thinking.
I started thinking the 12 Days of Christmas and what I am most thankful for. Here is my take.
12 Days of Christmas Thankfulness
Day 1: The Big Guy - I have always had faith and believed, but it wasn't until the past 5 years that I truly have become thankful and grateful for everything He has given me. Without all the trials, and tribulations, successes and failures, I really don't know where I would be. The ability to pick myself up and keep on forward in this life - knowing that I have Him in my corner - is something I am thankful for every day.
Day 2: My parents. They taught me daily life lessons. How to live, how to love, how to have fun and not get caught - wait, maybe I shouldn't have said that one out loud. I am thankful for the days I get to talk to them or spend some bonding time with them, and continue to learn from them.
Day 3: I am thankful for the 3 hour drive - and only a 3 hour drive - back home to the family farm. Going home to the farm is my reset button in life. Once I cross the border from Iowa into Nebraska, I feel that all my stress and issues I've been trying to manage just don't seem that big of a deal anymore. Most times I leave with a new perspective on things and accomplish what it was I was setting out to do. Stress free.
Day 4: My siblings. If it wasn't for the many scars my siblings have made me endure - literally and figuratively. (I have a scar on my forehead from a game I used to play when I was 2 years old with my sister. (I'm told) I would hang on one part of an old rotary toy phone that had wheels. And my sister would be on the other end of the cord and drag me everywhere. We got a little too crazy and I smacked into the door frame and cracked my head open). The pranks we do on each other and our attitude on life - keeps the kid in this 31 year old alive. I feel that they have helped shaped my outlook in life and my sense of humor.
Day 5: Naps. I strongly agree that an afternoon nap is mandatory for a healthy life. And when they say power nap - I don't believe in the sissy 5-minute nap. A power nap to me is an hour, two hours if you have time.
Day 6: Coffee. Do I really need to say more?
Day 7: My teachers and mentors. Because of you, I am able to achieve a lot of the experiences and opportunities I have been able to. I know I can do it, whatever it is I want to do. But it is because of you pushing me and encouraging me that I walked through those open doors you provided for me.
Day 8: My friends. I have been through a lot in my lifetime - I'm surprised I don't feel older than what I do - I'm still 28, right? Cuz I feel like I'm 25 but every legal document states I'm 31. Through all of the ups and downs, my friends were with me through it all to celebrate and endure. Thank you for the support and for the laughs.
Day 9: My Camera. Picking up my camera and ceasing the moment has taught me a lot about life. Things that are taken for granted that are going under appreciated. I am thankful that because of my love of photography, I am able to stop for a moment and enjoy the roses. I can make time stand still for just one second and realize how special life is.
Day 10: My Job. Because of my job, I am able to expand and take opportunities I wouldn't normally have been able to take. I have met the most amazing people on my journey to get to where I am, and I continue to help those around me.
Day 11: The ability to laugh at myself. I truly believe if you can't laugh at yourself, then my friend - you live a sad life. It's important to take a step back and look at yourself and be able to shake off any disappointments, any mess ups or goofs. Don't take yourself so serious all the time, and it is just as important to reward yourself on a job well done. If you can't laugh at yourself, how can you find the humor and joy in anything around you?
Day 12: The 12 Apostles. The older I get, the more I look up to the 12 Apostles. These guys were the everyday joes. Some of them were the worst of the worst. And yet, they were the close beloved of Christ. I see these 12 in the people around me. This gives me hope, that no matter how bad I mess up in life or what I am currently feeling - there is hope for me. There is hope for all of us if we just believe and don't give up.
What are your 12 Days of Christmas Thankfulness?