Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. It is very closely followed by Christmas, but this is the holiday that my family gets together for most consistently and I love the emphasis on gratitude.
My grandmother, Grandma G, had a tradition where every year before we could eat, we had to go around the table and say something we are grateful for that year.
She passed away three years ago after battling cancer. She was a true matriarch of our family and I miss her dearly, especially this time of year. In her honor, we still keep her Thanksgiving tradition alive by voicing something for which we are thankful.
This post isn’t really about finances or money. However, I believe that contentment is an essential element of practicing frugality and conscious consumerism. Gratitude is the root of contentment.
So, without further ado, I’m getting a head start before Thursday and putting my gratitude in writing early this year.
Here is my list:
1. I’m thankful for the birth of my daughter
She is beautiful, healthy, shares my curly hair, her father’s nose, and has the most infectious grin I’ve ever seen in a baby. Her smile can cheer up the most sullen stranger and she has gift for bringing a light out in others. I hope she never loses that quality. She truly has made our lives better and she would make her great-Grandma G proud.
2. I’m thankful for a job that I love
I’m frequently conscious of and grateful for the fact that I’m that rare millennial who got a graduate degree and had a job lined up in my field before graduating. I like to think it was the result of hard work and networking, but I do recognize the element of good fortune in the way it all turned out.
I find my job intellectually stimulating and the work fulfilling. My boss supports flexible schedules and allows me to work at home sometimes when needed. I love being able to support my family both at home and contribute financially. I know I am fortunate to have made such a smooth transition to being a working mom and I am incredibly grateful for it.
3. I’m thankful for a supportive husband
I took 11 weeks of maternity leave, before coming back to work. Since my husband works in education, my return to work fortuitously coincided with the start of his summer vacation. He was able to stay home with baby FC for two months before she went to daycare. He’s an involved father and a true partner at home.
He supports me being a working mom, doesn’t complain when I go on laundry folding strikes (we split household duties, but laundry folding is my least favorite), has been my biggest encourager for starting a blog, and he never says no.
4. I’m thankful for being welcomed into the personal finance blogging community
I’m still figuring out this whole blogging thing and I feel like I’m still finding my voice, but all I can say about the PF blogging community is WOW. You guys are inspiring, and helpful, and everything in between. I feel like I was welcomed without question and haven’t encountered anyone who was anything but supportive. Thank you all.
5. I’m thankful we get to host our crazy big family this year
We could have up to 25 people at our house for Thanksgiving this year. Twenty-five! If you find me hyperventilating via Twitter Thursday morning, now you’ll know why.
Just kidding. I wouldn’t offer to host if it truly bothered or stressed me out that much. I don’t see the point in doing that to yourself. The same way I don’t see the point in serving food you don’t like. We offered to host because we like it!
To ease my stress though, I made a google spreadsheet of the things I intend to cook and I let my family sign up to bring the rest of the side dishes. I will make turkey, gravy, and cranberries…because I’m a cranberry sauce snob and LOVE the homemade kind and detest the canned stuff. To prevent any disappointment I always offer to bring them to Thanksgiving.
It’s a perfect strategy because I get to share a meal with my family without incurring all the stress or cost on my own. They get to bring something they like too. This strategy also brings the focus back to being thankful for spending time with the people I care about and not about the stress of putting on a production.
Our guests will be a combination of my Mom’s family (her siblings and their families), my sisters, my in-laws, my step-Dad and step-sister, my Dad and some of his friends (yes, my divorced parents and their partners will still come to the same holiday gatherings).
It’s Modern Family meets my Big Fat Greek Wedding. Except we’re not Greek.
One of the reasons we decided to move back home was to be close to our families, so we take full advantage of it.
6. I’m thankful for random acts of kindness
My office is across the street from a Starbucks. It’s wonderful and awful all at the same time. Recently, in a moment of weakness, I was going through the drive thru and the person in the car ahead of me paid for my order. It absolutely made my day.
I didn’t need them to; I don’t even know who they were. I had the money to pay for it and was fully prepared to account for it in my budget. But they did it to be kind and to spread good will. Once I got over my surprise, I made sure to pay it forward and paid for the car behind me.
7. I’m thankful for my health
Thanks to the miracle of breastfeeding I’ve lost the baby weight and kept going. I plan to run my first half-marathon next spring and I’m trying to get a headstart by being active throughout the holidays!
8. I’m thankful for the privilege of being a woman who is educated on personal finance
I struggled with how to articulate this point because there are many facets to it.
I’m thankful to be born in a country where I was given free access to education and where I have rights as a woman. I’m thankful I had a father who wanted all three of his daughters to be highly educated and independent. He taught us about money and encouraged us to avoid student loans and to pay them off quickly if we did get them.
For too many women, money is cast as a man’s topic and they are taught to think they are not good at it or don’t need to pay attention to it, the same way they are taught to think they don’t like math (shocker… I actually really like math!).
I’m thankful I had examples that encouraged me to buck that trend.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. There are many more things I could list and I want to continue consciously practicing gratitude regularly in my life. I will keep doing so personally.
What are you thankful for this year?