It’s that time of year. We’re stuffing ourselves with turkey, fork fighting for the last of the stuffing, and trying desperately to avoid that one side dish that Aunt B brings every year but you still aren’t quite sure what the heck it is, or if it’s really dead. And, on top of it all, everyone takes the Thankful Challenge. If you haven’t been on social media, the Thankful Challenge is when you post every day, from November 1 until Thanksgiving, what you are thankful for. Keyword there being “what.” But one thing I’ve noticed since reading these is people don’t say why they are thankful. Sure, I’m thankful for our veterans, my family, my health, my freedom, and so on. But I want to tell you why I’m thankful for a few of the things I’m grateful for.
My Job I get to wake up every morning and go to work. I get to earn money, I get to determine my future, I get to choose if I succeed or fail. I am thankful because I get the opportunity to work with great people, go through stressful trials, and grow each day.
My family Some people don’t have supportive families. Some don’t have any at all. I’m thankful for my family (which I include some close friends as part of) because they have been my support. I’ve gone through a lot over the years, and every step I take, there is someone behind me ready to catch me if I stumble. Do they always agree with my choices? Probably not. Will they ever abandon me because I had to learn a lesson the hard way? No.
My boyfriend I’ve been in bad relationships, and I’ve been in great ones. I’ve seen people in terrible relationships and said “I hope that NEVER happens to me!” I have now found someone who now treats me amazing. He cares for me, he encourages me in all of my endeavors, and I know if something ever goes wrong, he’ll be right there waiting to support me.
My home I get to go home tonight and sleep in a warm bed. I get to turn on the heat and melt my toes. I get to cuddle up with my bird. Tonight, thousands of veterans, millions of refugees, and gobs of others will be sleeping on concrete or in overcrowded shelters. I’m not only thankful to have a house that I can go home to, I’m proud that I can have it as well.
My freedom of speech Out of all of my freedoms, I think this is what I’m most grateful for. I can say what I want. I can use social media without fear that I will have a government-sanctioned hit on my head. I can call into a radio station and rant without having to go into hiding and use a voice changer. Granted, there are some people who will get upset, and there may be consequences, but I have that freedom. Some people definitely do not have this right, and must watch even what they gossip to a close friend.
My education Yes, it has been a terrible pain at a high cost. But on December 19, I will be an official graduate of Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. I griped, I cried, I had more than a few mental breakdowns (heads up – don’t work 3 jobs and try to go to school full-time. Just…don’t….), but I made it through. And I was given the opportunity. In many countries, education is a major privilege, ESPECIALLY for women! The idea of walking across that stage and taking that paper is an impossible dream for so many, and I’m grateful I can make that dream come true.
There’s so much more that I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t even get into everything. This year, as we get into the holidays, don’t just post that your thankful for something, share why. You’d be surprised how many simple things you discover in your life you can be thankful for that others may not have.
Nicole Firebaugh | @nicole_for