I have put off posting my list of things for which I am thankful. It would have been easy to come up with the list and post it on the appropriate day, but it seems rather cliché to be thankful on Thanksgiving as if we forget about it the rest of the year. But I am reminded of them often and appreciate them daily, and it’s important to stress them as they are.

The first thing that I am reminded of nearly every waking hour is that things are not worse. By and large, the financial stress experienced by my family has not resulted in catastrophic loss. I have had to part with some personal treasures in order to survive, but I still have the most important things. I still have my wedding ring. I still have my car and my home, things that I worked for all my life. And most importantly, I still have a strong family even though we’ve had a tough go of it for a few years. My husband of 18 years still asks me to marry him often, and it is quite beyond words of what it means to me. Not everyone has been so incredibly lucky in such hard times, and I feel very blessed.

I am thankful that I am not the same person I was going into the Great Recession that I am now. Things I thought were mountains in the past have turned out to be mere molehills. At times I have forgotten myself and have sort of given into negativity, but I can rationalize my way through it. I think I am a much happier person in general, understanding that there is enough glass-half-empty thinking in this world to fill several oceans several times over that I don’t need to add to it and destroy my peace when we have only so many days to experience the wonders of everything God has provided. I want every day to count.

Many of the lessons I have learned over the past few years are certainly not ones I would have chosen. But most of my life has been that way, lessons choosing me instead of the reverse, both good and bad; and I am thankful for them all as part of the ongoing learning experience that is life. I have learned how to better manage money. I’ve always tended to be more of a saver than not, but I can now see where I’ve unnecessarily wasted money.  I’ve learned the actual meaning of frugality and that being cheap isn’t really so bad if it is approached with sensibility. I’ve also learned the true cost of convenience and found that being lazy is expensive. I hardly buy any “quick” meals or parts of meals anymore, finding that one can do a lot with an economy sized bag of flour, for example, that ends up tasting much better and is far less of a waste of money for not much more effort. I’ve also found that I am a great cook, which can be viewed as both a blessing and curse. My family eats nearly everything I cook, and doesn’t want any of the prepackaged stuff anymore; and so even when I don’t want to cook, I am nudged toward it. I also now have a hard time with convenience foods; they give me indigestion. Even if I had a mind to go back to them, I would not be able to.

This concludes my list of things that I am at least willing to publish. There are many more, but this is a good start.

PS: If you have someone who enjoys American history and likes coffee table books on your Christmas list this year, this book is a great choice as it is a serious history book with primary sources of information in addition to having the format and aesthetics of a coffee table book. It’s a coffee table book that actually educates which is quite rare.

[Update] I fixed a typo that I didn’t notice before. I changed, in the 3rd paragraph, “glass half-full thinking” to “glass half-empty thinking.” I’m sure people understood what I meant, but it was an embarrassing mistake, nonetheless.