Posted in 30 Days of Thanks

Day 25 – Hosting the Holidays

I am thankful for the opportunity to host holidays at our house. And at the same time, thankful we didn’t host Thanksgiving this year. It’s been a hectic year and this has been a very hectic week with it being mom’s birthday, squeezing a week worth of work into two days, getting ready for Italy and other family plans this weekend; so I was relieved that I also didn’t have to cook a Thanksgiving dinner this year. But I am looking forward to Christmas, where we will be hosting. It’s the first time we’ve hosted Christmas Day, over the past four years, we’ve done Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas Eve, but never Christmas Day. I’m excited for something new. I’m excited to spend the day not leaving my house. I’m excited for everyone to see our house decorated for the holidays!! I love the feeling of getting prepared and seeing our family relax while we do the work. It’s a blessing being able to have our families and friends over, and an extra blessing when it happens for a holiday.

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Day 24 – Grandma’s Tree

IMG_2454.jpgToday I am thankful for my favorite Black Friday tradition – coming to Long Island to put up Grandma’s Christmas tree! While many people are out shopping, I take my day to spend time with my grandmother and help her decorate her house for Christmas, and get the tree up and ready. I’ve been doing this every year since 2002 (with the only exception being 2006 when I was in Ireland) and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. It is a wonderful way to spend time with my grandmother and to start celebrating the holidays.

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Day 23 – Christmas Time

I am thankful for the Christmas season! I know it is still technically Thanksgiving, but I promise I’m not getting ahead of myself. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, now Christmas can begin! And it truly is my most favorite time of the year 🎄

I firmly believe in waiting until after Thanksgiving to begin the Christmas season. And I don’t participate in Black Friday shopping. We now have a month to celebrate Christmas and all that goes with it – especially acts of charity and love. Plus I can now listen to my favorite Christmas music!

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Day 22 – Traditions

I am thankful for traditions. Growing up we had a number of them, but over the years they changed – Sarah and I outgrew them, or they disappeared when our parents got divorced and now a number are gonna without Mom. But just because most of the traditions from my childhood are gone, doesn’t mean I don’t have new ones. Tom and I started some traditions before moving to our home, but since then even more have come about. We go strawberry and blueberry picking in the summer. And in the fall we go apple picking, and even try to make time to go apple picking upstate where I used to go with my parents – and then go pumpkin picking too. And the tradition I’m most looking forward to is buying our Christmas tree 🎄! We go to Jones Farms on our anniversary every year to buy our tree – this has double meaning. First, we go on our anniversary so we always spend they day together and second, it’s where I used to get a tree as a little kid, before my parents got an artificial one. These traditions may seem simple, but I am thankful for them every year!

Posted in 30 Days of Thanks, Dear Mom

Day 21 – 💚Mom💚

Today I am thankful for my mom. Over the past nine months I have realized how much I truly relied on her in my day-to-day life. When I couldn’t find the recipe to chicken supreme last week, I wanted to pick up the phone and call mom for it – fortunately, I was able to call my grandmother to get it. But mom didn’t just give me my favorite recipes on demand; I used mom as my own personal google too. When I need to know how to get a new stain out of clothing, or get burnt off food off the bottom of a pan, mom always had some good tips – did you know that the granular Cascade dishwasher detergent can get almost any stain out of anything? I didn’t until mom suggested I use that to get grease out of a shirt. I am thankful that mom would always be there, any hour of the day, to answer the most ridiculous and obscure questions I might have.

Mom was more than my own personal google too; she was the woman who taught me how to be an independent woman. She taught me to hold my head high, to feel secure as a female in a male dominated field and to stand up for myself. She taught me to be respectful, to listen and not speak out, to learn and to love. She taught me that it was OK to not be perfect but also taught me to strive for perfection. She taught me to never give up and to always fight for myself, my loved ones and my beliefs. She taught me that family is important.

I am thankful that I celebrated her birthday with her last year. Two years ago, we celebrated Mom’s 60th at Gramercy Tavern in NYC with most of her family. She wanted a smaller brunch in the Rainbow Room, but we weren’t able to get reservations, but thanks to a suggestion from an aunt, we found an even better place that could handle a larger crowd too! I cannot speak highly enough of the people at Gramercy Tavern for the service we got that day. While we rang in her 60th in style, it is actually her 61st birthday that left a bigger impact on me. Last year I was unemployed when her birthday came around; while it was the end of my unemployment and I knew I would be starting a new job soon, I didn’t have much money to spend on going out for mom’s birthday. Tom and I invited her over for dinner, but she told me she didn’t feel comfortable driving home from our house in the dark, so instead we went to her. What she didn’t tell me was that she wasn’t feeling well and that was the real reason she didn’t want to drive to our house, on roads she’s uncomfortable with, where she didn’t know where she could stop on her way home. So we had her birthday dinner at her house a couple weeks early (eating our beloved chicken supreme), but at that time I didn’t know she wasn’t feeling well. A few days after the early birthday dinner, my Mom texted my sister and I to let us know that her sister and her mother (and possibly my cousin) were going to the Botanical Gardens for the Holiday Train Show and then out for dinner. I called my mom to talk about it, I wasn’t opposed to going, but didn’t think I could afford to go (and to be honest, wasn’t super excited to go) – I was on a tight budget, the holidays were coming up and I still had a number of presents to purchase, I didn’t have money in the budget to go out for a nice dinner, pay for parking, pay for admission, etc. Mom told me that since she was a member, she had guest passes, I didn’t have to pay to go to the gardens, and she’d cover my dinner, she didn’t want me to miss it. Even though I didn’t have a strong desire to go, I agreed and met my mom, aunt, grandma and cousin there on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to go see the train show. I am very thankful that my mom told me how much it meant to her that I come and be there, because if I’m being honest, that is the only reason I was going. I really enjoyed the train show – so much so that Tom and I are headed back there today, on what would have been Mom’s 62nd birthday to celebrate her!

After the train show. We went out for dinner in City Island. It was after dinner, while we waited for dessert, when Mom finally told me she wasn’t feeling well. We didn’t know at that time what exactly was the problem, but we would soon find out. In hindsight, I see how important it was that I went to celebrate her birthday that day. I am thankful I gave in and that she was persistent that I come. I am thankful that I had that day of fun with her. I am thankful I was there on her last big outing. I am thankful she enjoyed her birthday.

Every day I hope that I am making her proud. I hope that I am using the lessons she taught me. I am forever thankful for the time I spent with her, even if it was not nearly enough time to do everything we wanted to do.

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Day 20 – Yoga

Today I am thankful for yoga. And not just any yoga, but specifically Blue Lotus Yoga here in Monroe. A little over a year ago, my amazing friend Elaina told me she was going to open her own yoga studio. Since I was unemployed and she was a bit unfamiliar with some technology, like building her website, she asked me for some help. We met a couple of times and I helped her launch her website and social media accounts. About 3 1/2 months later, her studio opened and I stayed on helping with social media and the website. And along the way, I decided to start taking yoga classes myself. Yoga gave me peace of mind during what was the most turbulent period of my life. It brought me peace and comfort and allowed me a way to take a break from reality and focus on me for a short bit of time. But the whole thing also turned an acquaintance into a real friend and seeing her grow with her studio has been a joy to witness. 🙏🏻💙🙏🏻

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Day 19 – Wanderlust

I am thankful for my sense of wanderlust. One of the many lessons I have learned over the past year is that it really is the life in your years that matter. Taking new adventures and seeing new places. I’ve got my bucket list (which needs some updating) and I have been blessed this year to have gone on a number of trips – Portland, DC, Cape Cod, Cleveland and a number of day trips plus Canada and Atlanta for work (not to mention going to Frankfurt and Torino next week)! In addition to trips I love trying new things, like my new hobbies of calligraphy and dirt biking. So here’s to more adventures with friends and family in the coming years!!

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Day 18 – Bible Study

I am thankful that I am doing a Psalm 119 Bible Study 🙏🏻 with my friend Jenna who is living clear across the world in Cambodia! Doing a bible study allows me to not only be closer to Christ, but gives Jenna and I a way to stay close and encourages us to communicate almost daily 😊 And as an added bonus, it’s letting me work out some of my lingering questions and anger regarding my mom’s passing.

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Day 17 – Calligraphy

Today I am thankful for my new hobby, calligraphy. Back at the beginning of October, I took a calligraphy class at a local stationary store, Joyful Noise. Since the class, I have been practicing my skill and it sure makes giving presents and writing Christmas cards a little more exciting and festive! Plus, having a new hobby is fun; it gives me the opportunity to mentally check out from everything else and focus on something that is solely for me every couple of days.