December has been a flurry of festivities and cheer, and we’re not done yet! As we celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, and the coming new year, we at Petite2Queen are reflecting on all we’re grateful for this holiday season. Below, we each share our own memories and stories about what matters to us this year.
What are you grateful for this holiday season? Let us know in the comments!
For most of my life, Christmas Eve has always been celebrated at my aunt’s house. Every year, it was a fun, lively event, but I longed for a chance to host it at my own home. My husband and I spent the last six years living in one-bedroom apartments, making such a goal impossible. But this year, everything has changed: We now live in a spacious townhouse, and we’re excited to finally host Christmas!
The last several weeks have been a whirlwind of preparations. We bought our first full-sized Christmas tree, and recently spent an afternoon setting it up with the lights and ornaments. We’re now on the hunt for holiday decorations, more silverware and plates, and festive table coverings. As the big day draws closer, we’ll fine-tune our menu, finalize our holiday playlist, and rearrange our furniture to comfortably fit the whole family.
It’s a lot of work, but my husband and I are so excited to host our favorite holiday. As 2019 comes to an end, I’m grateful for the new home I live in and the family who can spend the holiday with us there.
Being depressed, gratitude is something I struggle to feel and acknowledge. The holiday season is filled with stress and grief as I try to wrap up the year’s projects, hunt for Christmas gifts, travel thousands of miles to see family, and once again remember that the holidays will never be the same after the death of so many loved ones, most painfully my dad. Depression makes me see the negative in everything, to the point where I just don’t see anything to be really grateful for.
In my general life, there is one thing that always makes me a little bit happier: my cat, Cordelia. Of course, I am always grateful for her. But during the holiday season, figuring out who will look after her while I return to the US for several weeks brings me a lot of anxiety. Therefore, this holiday season, I am grateful to my friends – three in particular – who make this a bit easier. A PhD colleague and her fiancé are helpful in facilitating Cordelia’s care at a cat hotel, and a roommate is caring for Cordelia herself during the second half of my absence.
Anyone with pets knows the importance of making sure they are well looked after. To all the friends and family who offer their support, time, or service to these fuzzy (or scaley or feathery) friends, thank you.
Driving through Los Angeles, I often see homeless encampments on the side of the road or nestled between thick bushes next to the freeway interchanges. LA has a lot of homeless people, many of whom also have suffered from mental illness. It really makes me think about how grateful I am to be one of those more fortunate to have a roof over my head and access to healthcare.
A close friend of mine recently almost became homeless after struggling with mental illness and addiction. It frustrated me that they did not have access to the healthcare they needed; that meant that it was all the more difficult for them to take steps to get back on their feet. As someone who has also struggled with mental illness, I am so very fortunate to be able to afford to go to the doctor and pay for any medication I might need. My friend has finally been able to take small steps in a better direction. It’s been a really difficult time for them, but I’m thankful they are seeking out a better life, even if it takes baby steps.
I also think of people who may not have a support system of family and friends this holiday season, and I’m grateful to have that. The holidays are often thought of as a time to spend with them, and many people don’t have family or friends they can do that with. So I want to cherish the moments when I’m being silly with friends and hugging family members and having discussions with my parents about their retirement. I’m so thankful for those moments.
I’m grateful for progress. It’s easy to tunnel-vision and see what’s in front of you and be blind to where you’ve already gone. My significant other helped me see that this year during a rough patch, as well as just the end-of-quarter display of all the assignments done over the course of the class. I’m constantly ricocheting between extremes, and I know I want to head towards a healthy equilibrium. I’m building up my discipline, and feeling out what it means to be a more holistic person beyond one dimensional ideologies and pithy sayings. I am rediscovering what it means to be voracious for life. I’m working (and, many a times, stumbling) at finding ways to maintain it and not be a flighty creature of capricious passions. I’m grateful for that, because I feel it in my gut to meet life head-on and it’s a liberating feeling.
Life can be in a constant state of flux. Sometimes it’s the choices you make, sometimes it’s a poor luck of the draw. I’m grateful for it, even when I’m distressed at the moment of it, because it means there’s always something to do. And, because of it, you get a greater appreciation for the times when there’s some rest in your life. Even when there’s rain and the sky’s a bleak grey-blue, there’s the warm light casting outwards of a home well-cherished.
Likewise, I’m grateful for the people around me. My mother is trying to be a better person and mother figure, despite how tired and isolated she is. I’m grateful for my brother who, despite having some work to do in regards to maturing, has a strong and earnest sense of loyalty. I’m grateful for my significant other, who makes me feel wanted and loved. There’s always an effort put forth by the people around me, steadfast qualities that make them who they are. They keep me going when I can’t keep myself going.
Gratitude is all around us and ready to be tapped. It’s like love:You never run out, because you always have the power to make more. When things go sideways, wrong, or what seems disastrous, we have a choice to seek the good. I have a saying, “It could always be worse.” I am grateful for this thought system, to see the positive. In my darkest hours, I may have to search for it, but I can find something constructive to help me through whatever is going on.
My darkest hour was when my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Talk about a bleak landscape. And don’t get me wrong, I held a two-week pity party. It took that time for my positive belief processes to reassert themselves. Asking myself, “Could it be any worse,” I realized the answer was yes. He could have been in a fatal accident and gone in a moment. Something similar had happened with my brother. While my husband’s diagnosis was terrible, we had the gift of time. Time to create treasured memories and celebrate every day. And we did.
Acquiring an outlook of gratitude and maintaining a positive attitude is so important. It seeps into every aspect of our lives, from coping through dark times, to adjusting to minor setbacks. Aspiring to encircle our lives with gratitude gives us resiliency, the ability to pick ourselves up when we stumble and discover the silver lining in the situation. Even if the light is a speeding train, there is invariably a way to get through the tunnel. I am grateful that I actively choose to empower myself every day. My wish for you this holiday is to gain a similar perspective and aptitude.
Petite2Queen is a virtual mentoring community for women who want more out of life and their careers. We are women who have been there, done that… and women who are in it with you. Our virtual mentoring series, podcasts, blogs, and more provide real-life learning, insights, and transferrable skills. Create your own amazing life!