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I love Christmastime feelings, but don’t forget Thanksgiving

Seems like people are decorating for Christmas earlier than ever this year.

I can understand, given how this year has gone.

I love the positive feelings that Christmas evokes. As much as I have wanted to decorate for Christmas for the past month, I have been holding out until Thanksgiving is over. I cannot say the same for Christmas music, though. That has been playing for several weeks in my world.

Thanksgiving has a lot of history behind it, both good and bad. We got to read a bit about it in Tuesday’s edition of The Alpena News.

It seems like many of us no longer celebrate holidays in ways that are aligned and representative of their original intent. I hope, at the very least, you are using Thanksgiving as a time to reflect on all of the blessings you have in your life — the things you can, and should, be thankful for. Cliche, I know. Valuable, without a doubt.

I want to say especially this year, when things seemed to crash and burn around us, but I think we should be grateful every year. Every day. In good times and difficult times. There is always something to be thankful for, even during the most difficult times.

When I focus on what I am grateful for, it always reminds me how fortunate and blessed I am. It gives me a sense of peace and happiness. With a sprinkle of pride and the good kind of contentment.

I try not to be generic with my gratitude, although I am grateful for things like my health, my friends, my family, having a warm place to sleep every night and enough food to eat. I like to dig in a little deeper and identify more specifically what I am grateful for.

I am grateful the way my transition went from my previous career to my new one. It was a nerve-racking time for me. Incredibly stressful, it was difficult to leave a world I was so familiar with, ingrained in, and in which I had made a lot of friends. I am unbelievably grateful that the community was supportive, that the previous organization was flexible, and that my new employer was understanding. I am grateful that I am still able to be involved in volunteer and service groups. I am thankful for the new people I have met so far in my first year at the new job. They make a great addition to the incredible people I already know.

This summer was a beautiful summer. The weather was perfect lake weather. I am thankful for the time I got to spend on the water. I am grateful I got to see friends as often as I did, that I rode my bike around Hubbard Lake more this year than any year prior, and that beach volleyball league was still on.

I am grateful that the medical procedure I had to have this year went well and that I was taken care of, locally, by incredible nurses and doctors. I am grateful that my healing went well.

There is more, but sharing things I am grateful for is not the point of this column.

Throughout all of this, notice what I did not focus on? I didn’t say things like, “I only took my paddle board out once this summer, but at least I got to do that,” or, “I had wanted to plant a few pots of vegetables this year and didn’t have time, but at least I got fresh veggies from others who had plenty to give away,” or, “Our volleyball team didn’t win the championship but at least we got to play.”

Statements like those do include gratefulness, but it is paired with a regret or disappointment.

Forget that.

Maybe use it to set a goal for the future, but, if you keep reminding yourself of the things you were disappointed by, or didn’t achieve, it becomes more difficult to focus on the good and to be fully and purely grateful for what you do have, what you get to do, and the life you currently live.

Even though many are rushing to get to Christmas for whatever their reason (my heart goes out to those who struggle with loneliness or sadness at Christmastime, let’s not forget about them), don’t forget Thanksgiving.

Use it to be purely and completely grateful for the things in your life that are worth giving thanks for.

If you are struggling to find those things, you are not looking hard enough.

Jackie Krawczak is president of Jackie Krawczak LLC. Her column runs every three weeks on Thursdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.

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