Decorating my house for Christmas is typically an event I hold off on until after Thanksgiving Day. Friday night, however, my family took a drive to Cleveland to admire the city's 50 Nights of Lights.
The decorations were, as always, absolutely beautiful and my children couldn't stop pointing at the neat things they saw, like Santa riding a tractor, a penguin jumping off an igloo and snowmen playing sports. If you haven’t been yet, you should. Even if you aren’t comfortable walking around, it’s very easy to see everything from your vehicle.
That night, the Christmas spirit pulled me in and shoved my inner Scrooge aside.
The next day, much to my husband's dismay, we began the process of bringing our holiday boxes stuffed to the brim with decorations into our house. Sorry, Thanksgiving, we will still honor your day come Thursday.
By Sunday evening, our home had transformed into a cozy, colorful, Christmas utopia.
The only thing I’m tempted to repack is the squirrel singing, "I'm getting nuttin' for Christmas.” I’ve already heard it so much I am now hearing it on replay in my mind no matter what I'm doing, and it’s not even December yet.
Even though my holiday gears have shifted, Thanksgiving has still been at the forefront of my mind as it quickly approaches.
Several people on Facebook recently have been sharing daily posts of things they are grateful for.
Naturally, these posts have got me thinking about the things I’m thankful for in my life. Of course, the number one on my list is family.
While that is very true, it's also the easiest answer to the question, so I thought about it some more.
I'll be the first to admit I complain over arbitrary things on a daily basis when I should be doing the opposite every day.
As I contemplated my life compared to that of others throughout the world, my list began to grow.
I recently started following Yeonmi Park on YouTube, a human rights activist who escaped her life in North Korea in 2007 at the age of 14.
Her brainwashed views of the Kim Dynasty had changed after she watched an illegally imported DVD of “Titanic,” which showed her how truly oppressed they were.
As I’ve been listening to her stories of the day-to-day life for the citizens of North Korea, I’ve learned to better appreciate my life in the United States of America.
As simple as my list of what I’m thankful for may seem, the sad truth is there are many people alive today who have either never experienced many of these things because they are either luxuries where they live or they don’t have access at all.
This year, I’m thankful for:
• Having a roof over my head;
• Electricity in my home;
• Heating and air conditioning;
• Hot showers and baths;
• Easy access to plentiful, safe drinking water;
• Easy accessibility to the Internet;
• Free public libraries;
• Freedom of religion;
• An education;
• A bed to sleep on at night;
• Owning and driving a car;
• Freedom of speech;
• Indoor plumbing;
• Grocery stores;
• Modern medicine;
• Having photographs to look back on and cherish;
• Online shopping for virtually anything I can think of;
• Plenty of music and TV entertainment to enjoy;
• Board games to enjoy with my friends and family;
• A closet full of clothes;
• The ability to travel;
• Freedom to style my hair however I want;
• Not fearing execution or labor camp for trivial offenses;
• The ability to learn about other cultures; and
• Being able to live my life how I want.
I am deeply grateful I get to wake up each day and make it whatever I want it to be.
Despite my struggles, my life is pretty wonderful. I’m not afraid to do what I want to do, go where I want to go and see what I want to see.
Thanksgiving may be a single day for us to acknowledge our gratitude, but I can only hope to do a better job at appreciating these things every day.
Catherine Kirk is managing editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.