For the first time in 12 years, I didn’t want to write this list.
In the fourth grade, my wise teacher gave us homework for Thanksgiving. We were to write a list of 100 things for which we were thankful. They could be big or small, silly or sweet—the only requirement was that they be sincere. I’ve repeated the assignment on my own every year since, and for the past two years, I’ve shared my annual “Thankfulness List” on my blog (see: 2014; 2013).
Earlier this week, however, when I sat down to complete my “Thankfulness List,” the buoyancy that ordinarily fills my heart as I write each item felt replaced by sadness and longing. In the past week, someone very close to me was diagnosed with cancer, and my sweet grandma passed away. These two events, combined with the onset of winter and a generous dose of self-pity, made it hard for me to feel any sense of gratitude. What I felt instead was loneliness, and even a bit of bitterness too.
Then, the doorbell rang. It was a bouquet of joyful sunflowers from my wonderful friend Rachel, a shining surprise in an otherwise dismal week. It was the spot of sunshine I desperately needed to remind me of just how filled with blessings my life truly is.
Some years, the blessings flow more quickly and freely than we can write them down; other years, they seem rare and are difficult to see. This year’s struggle to write my Thankfulness List taught me that it is these second type of years, the darker years, when it is most important to count.
If life holds secrets to happiness, surely gratitude is one of them. As I look at the cheerful bouquet sunflowers perched merrily on my desk, I know it must be so.
Therefore, without further ado, 100 Things for Which I am Thankful in 2015. Truly, I am blessed.