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In the spirit of starting the Yule season off on the right foot, I like to reflect on the past year and the things I’m thankful for not only from this past year but also always. Personally, I am most thankful for my family and friends. I hope most people feel that way, but I know that is not always the case. Not everyone has family, or friends who are as close as family, but if you do, don't forget to show them how much you appreciate them.
I confess that I’m as bad as everyone else, and sometimes it takes the reflection and meditation of the beginning of the year and leading to Yule, and of course, the traditional Thanksgiving holiday, to remind me how blessed I am. However, that’s one of the things that we should all think about more often, not just how thankful we are for our family and friends, although that is huge, but how thankful we are for all the wonderful things in our lives.
I have a wonderful family, and a great group of friends that have been my extended family for over 30 years, some for most of my life. I’m not sure you can really ‘be’ thankful enough for that, simply because, without it, I don’t know how we’d function. In the words of John Lennon, “I get by with a little help from my friends,” and I think that’s true of all of us.
Family is wonderful, sometimes, and having a good relationship with your family is something to always value, but not everyone has that luxury. There are many reasons that we may or may not be close to family, not all of them necessarily bad; they just are, and our relationship with family may change over the years. Personally, I am closer to my family now than I was for many years, and I love them dearly. However, during those years when I wasn’t as close to my family as I am now, I became part of an extended family that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
I wouldn’t begin to know how to thank these people for what they have meant to me through the years, and I can’t imagine spending the past 30 years without them. We have partied together, cried together, been present for childbirth and graduations, anniversaries and holidays. We have bonded over parents who are aging and children who are growing up much too fast. Many of my friends are creative types, musicians, writers, artists, photographers, and chefs, and let me just say my college graduation parties were pretty epic, but that’s beside the point. What isn’t beside the point is that most of us have people like this in our lives, and we should find ways to let them know how much we appreciate them.
Most years I try to show my appreciation for my friends and family by having a Yule celebration dinner at my house each year. I fix dinner and share the feast with all those who have been there and been my family and extended family for all these years. This year, someone else is hosting, but seeing everyone all at one time is always a wonderful time. Other than the fact that we party considerably less now than we did then, nothing has changed.
This might not be possible for everyone, it wasn't for me this year, but I do want to advocate finding some way to say thanks to those who have kept you sane over the years, and we all know we have them. We also know we probably wouldn’t have made it this far without them, if for no other reason than that they’ve given us an outlet for those quirks that we couldn’t share with anyone else.
"A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself."
On another note, this time of year, I think it’s also important to make sure to give back to your community as well. It’s so easy to pick up a toy for a kid or a warm coat. Some groups have people who will come get them. We all have rough times and sometimes that one gift can make a huge difference for someone who is not as blessed.