Thursday, December 29, 2016

25 Gifts for Christmas

Well, I did it. I successfully de-Grinched myself this holiday season. I stuck to my plan--daily texts of appreciation to my husband and kids, and daily journal entries reflecting on the gifts I already have in my life. It seemed to do the trick. For the past month I've felt better than have in a long time.

Just in case you need to be reminded of some of the gifts in your life, here are the 25 I counted down to Christmas with (and they were written as the spirit moved me, appearing in no particular order):

1: Antidepressants. Okay, an odd choice, but a serious game-changer for me. I'm so thankful that there are options for people who struggle like I do.
2. My friend Karen A. I can tell her anything and be myself 100% of the time. I have a blast in her company (she's the friend most likely to get me into trouble), and yet I can cry and bear my soul with her, too. I'm praying that 2017 is really good to her. She deserves it.
3. Occasions with friends. What a gift! Whether it's watching a PSU football game with my Freakin' Angels, their spouses and kids, or enjoying a girls' night out, few things are better than spending time with my "sisters."
4. Bubble baths. We take them for granted, don't we? Millions of people in this world don't have clean water to drink and we fill a tub with gallons of it, just so we can soak away our First World troubles.
5. My job. It was kind of a down year for me professionally. Just wasn't feeling it. Guess the depression didn't help any. But I am thankful for meaningful work to do, and even more grateful that it comes with tuition remission.
6. Working out? This is a tough one. You know I hate exercising, but I'm thankful that I'm strong and healthy enough to do it, and I appreciate the results.
7. Eating out. The only thing I hate more than working out is cooking. Every meal I don't have to make is a gift.
8. Good TV shows. Television is in a renaissance period. The network shows may suck (with the exception of "This is Us"), but Showtime, Netflix and Amazon Video are more than making up for the dearth of quality entertainment that we experienced for the past several years.
9. Books. Give me the shore, a boat, the sun and a good book and I'm a happy girl. Read almost 25 books this year and there were some good ones on that list. I'll share them in my 2016 Entertainment Year in Review, coming soon.
10. The Christmas Spirit. I was feeling it on December 10! I had breakfast with my friend Emily whom I hadn't seen in ages. Then I hit the gym. Then I made real pine boughs for the windows and played with Lily. I hung the stockings with care, went shopping and wrapped some gifts. That night we had an MPC deacons' party. It was a really good day.
11. MPC. Have I told you we have a new pastor (not an interim!!!) at Media Presbyterian Church? And have I told you I think he's awesome? For the first time in years, I'm happy to invite one and all to join me at MPC some Sunday morning. If you're looking for a church family, your search is over!
12. Vacation days. Even if you do nothing more than organize the house, it's such a joy to take a day off.
13. Free classes at Villanova. Even though I didn't like my Voice & Movement class this past semester, I appreciate the ability to take courses that interest me. Next semester I'm taking Playwriting.
14. Lily. She steals food and is relentless about the garbage, but I love her to pieces. One of the greatest joys in my life.
15. Christmas cookies. I know no limits when it comes to eating them, which is why I'll be instituting a rigorous workout schedule come Jan. 2. Until then, I'm going to pig out, so if you notice that my jeans are unbuttoned, there's no need to bring it to my attention.
16. Great movies. Apollo 13 was on television on Dec. 16. Reminded me how powerful films can be. It's been a while since I've seen anything as good as that one, unfortunately. What have you seen in 2016 that you think hits the mark?
17. Games! I LOVE playing games with my family and friends. I'm lucky that my kids are game people, too. It's made for many a happy night together.
18. Ian. He came home on Dec. 18 for Rob's mom's birthday. Every time we're together I'm reminded just how much I love being with that "kid." He's smart, interesting and interested, and funny. He's engaging and engaged. I couldn't be prouder of the man he's becoming.
19. Hair cut and color. 'Nuff said.
20. Theatre. My "debut" this year was was just about everything I could have hoped for. It helped pull me out of one of the most severe depressive episodes in my life. I hope there's more of it (theatre, not depression) in my future.
21. A really good cheeseburger. I had an amazing BBQ bacon cheddar burger on Dec. 21 (Avenue Kitchen in Villanova). It was worth each of those 5000 calories.
22. The dog park. I love the dog park in Haverford almost as Lily. It's a sanctuary of sorts for me, and it brings me great joy to watch the dogs play.
23. Family outings. They're increasingly rare and as a result they mean that much more now. Once upon a time I couldn't wait to have "me" time, or time alone with Rob. Then one day you wake up and "me" time is the rule, rather than the exception. On Dec. 23 we (all four of us, plus Brooke) went to Booth's Corner for the first time. Had a blast, then came home and made Christmas cookies.
24. Abby. Where do I begin to describe the gift that is Abby? She's a one-of-a-kind force of nature. Tough, but warm to those she loves. She appreciates what she has and never asks for more. I'm so proud of her.
25. Rob. My greatest gift by far. A living, breathing example of God's love. I'm blessed with one of the best marriages of anyone I know. I guess that's what happens when you marry your best friend.

Your turn. What gifts did you discover this Christmas?

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