It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time of hope and anticipation, of kindness and generosity, of festive parties and sparkly dresses, of family traditions and long-awaited reunions. It’s a time that reminds us to pause and reflect on the blessings in our lives, to express our appreciation for our loved ones and care for those in need, and to look forward to a new year filled with new adventures.
It’s a wonderful time, and a little bittersweet. It’s the time of year I miss home and my family and holiday traditions and living in a place with four seasons the most. Such is life in the Navy. We’ve made new traditions, traveled to visit family when we are able, and embraced this journey with all its twists and turns. But this year is different. It’s our first holiday season during deployment. I’ve been missing Benjamin a little extra these past few days. He was always more of a Grinch than Cindy Lou Who during this time of year, but don’t let him fool you – beneath that tough exterior is a heart three sizes too big. I’m so, so grateful that he’ll be home for Christmas and we’ll have some time together before he goes overseas. But I can’t help but miss him.
Keeping up with a tradition that started back in my college days as a Young Life leader, I’m writing a list of what I’m thankful for this year. This year’s version isn’t my typical “top 40” approach; but it’s still a list.
My beloved husband. And now more than ever, the precious moments I share with him, whether in person or a phone call. Deployment really smacks you in the face with a reminder to never take for granted the ones you love. I’ve missed him so much, but I am so proud of him and so grateful to see the joy, sense of purpose, and surge of energy this opportunity has given him.
The sweetest, goofiest, most loyal and loving pup, my dear Nimitz. And my gentle old soul and expert snuggler, Charlie. These two have been such a comfort and a welcome presence these past few weeks. They make the quiet nights less lonely and help to keep me active and upbeat.
The roof over my head, the food on my table, the clothes on my back. I have never wanted for the necessities of life, and I consider that a great privilege, not an entitlement.
The people who fill my life with love and grace – from near and far. In my dream world, every one I love lives within a three hour drive. We can make that happen, right? I am so fortunate to have supportive family and sweet friends that brighten my days.
Okay, okay. I’ll do a little bit of the “top 40” snippet-style list. Here are some little things that bring me joy and make life sweet.
Peppermint mochas. Live music. Freshly fallen snow. The laughter and curiosity of my three beautiful nephews. Soft flannel shirts. A walk in the woods. Chocolate-covered almonds. Pretty stationary. Having the courage to embrace risks, challenges, and the unknown. Hand-written letters. Quiet moments. Extending love and grace to others (and ourselves). Being known and loved and accepted. Candlelight. Gin & tonic with a fresh slice of lime. Gilmore Girls and the West Wing – both witty and wise and endlessly entertaining. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Black & white photographs. Tulips. Driving through the countryside with the windows down and the music up. Visiting my old stomping grounds and getting all nostalgic and sentimental. Getting lost in a good book. Leopard print flats. Random acts of kindness. Exploring new places. The beauty of friendship. Down vests. Practicing hospitality. Laughter. Kindred spirits.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, friends.