One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more aware of the many things for which I am grateful by keeping a Journal of Gratitude. I’ve made this resolution before, and I never seem to stick with it – isn’t that usually the case with most resolutions?
I’ve decided to hold myself more accountable this year by posting on my blog the things that bring me joy, or inspiration, or motivation. Each month brings it’s own unique gifts and, while January is one of my least favorite months of the year, it is no exception.
A SLOWER PACE – While the month of December is filled with the excitement of celebrating Christmas, it is also filled with seemingly endless tasks of decorating, buying and wrapping gifts, baking treats, cleaning the house, preparing meals, and entertaining, not to mention cleaning up the messes that accompany many of these activities. I’m not complaining, because I love every extremely busy minute of it, but I am usually exhausted by the last day of December. I am grateful that January brings a slower pace, with fewer “To Do” lists. It offers an opportunity to recuperate from the hustle and bustle of December.
BLANKETS OF WHITE – The first week of January, 2017 brought with it a few inches of snow where I live. I’m not a huge fan of cold, icy weather, especially considering that my work requires me to travel. But there is something magical about watching snowflakes trickling down, covering the ground like a white blanket. The world just seems quieter when it’s snowing. I am grateful to snuggle up in my freshly-laundered white cotton blanket as I sit and watch the snowflakes dancing through the air.
BOOKED UP – I love to read, and the winter months always seem to offer me the most time to do so. I just read Ellie Wiesel’s “Night” for the third time. Everyone should read that book at least once. I’m, now, starting “Go Set a Watchman,” by Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This book met with some mixed reviews, but I feel compelled to see for myself. Another book that I am really enjoying is entitled, “At My Grandmother’s Knee,” by Faye Porter – “a collection of recipes and memories handed down by women of the South.” I am also planning on re-reading “The Case for a Creator,” by Lee Strobel. This is another one of those books that deserves to be read more than once. I highly recommend it!
BARGAINS! – Many are eager to hit up the After-Christmas sales on December 26. Not me. The last thing I want to do the day after Christmas is fight traffic and shopping crowds. I do, however, love browsing through the clearance sections in January, as that is when the true bargains can be found. I’ve already purchased Valentine’s Day gifts for my grandkids, at 75% off!
OUT OF THE CLOSET – Not only does January offer me the time to reorganize my thoughts, it also offers the opportunity to do a little organizing of my closets; a chance to pull out the things I no longer want or need, to donate to charity, and to organize the things that will stay. I’m going to be stricter on myself this year, in efforts to streamline and simplify my life. I’m grateful for all that I have, and realize that I might have more than I need when it comes to things such as clothes, dishes, and books. My husband and I are hoping to downsize to a smaller home soon, so it’s time to start downsizing the amount of possessions we own. Out. Out! OUT!
REFLECTION – Remember when I said January was one of my least favorite months of the year? The long, cold nights have something to do with that, but another significant reason is the fact that both of my parents passed away on cold January days. As I spend time reflecting on the experiences of the previous year, I can’t help but to find myself wishing that my Mom and Dad could see how my children have grown; the storms they have weathered and the accomplishments they’ve achieved. I wish they could meet their great-grandchildren, for they would be “over the moon” for them! I wish I could enjoy my Mom’s fried chicken one more time. No one can top my mom’s cooking. I wish I could tell my Dad about my grandson’s first steamboat ride. My Dad grew up on the riverbank and he loved steamboats. Mostly, I wish I could tell them both how much I appreciate all that they sacrificed for me, that I’m sorry for the times I let them down, and how much I love and appreciate them. I’ve battled this a lot over the years, but now that my children are grown and I have grandchildren of my own, I’ve come to a point of realization that they would probably answer, “It’s okay. It was worth it and, given the chance, we’d do it all over again.” I know that’s what I’d tell my children, and I think that’s what my parents would say to me. The cold, biting air of January might bring up some painful memories of my parents’ final days on Earth, but I am grateful that those memories also remind me of who they were and how much love they gave me.
There is joy to be found in all things, at all times. I’m grateful for the joys of January.
And, now, I’ll leave you with these adorable photographs from my grandson’s first steamboat ride!