Right before we departed for Thanksgiving break, my wise fourth-grade teacher gave our class a special assignment: to write a list of 100 things for which we were thankful. I’ve repeated the exercise every year since.
While I can’t imagine everything that my 9-year-old self would have listed, I do hope that I’ve held on to at least a piece of my childhood ability to find joy in even the smallest of things. In an effort to maintain the beautiful, innocent wonder that comes to children so easily but to adults (or at least to this adult) with greater difficulty, I’ve made a point to write down my “Thankfulness List” every single year. Four years ago, I published the list on my blog, and it’s become a tradition every year since.
In keeping with years past, I present my 2016 Thankfulness List.
1. My partner in crime, my best friend, the love of my life, and Dishwasher Numero Uno, Ben.
2. My dad, taken from us too soon. I miss him every day and am grateful for the years we did have together.
3. My mom, who I never doubt for a second is fiercely proud of me.
4. My two younger sisters, who I am blessed to call my closest friends.
5. Growing up with all four of my grandparents.
6. Still being able to call my grammy every week.
7. My stepdad. We didn’t pick each other, but I sure am happy to have him in my life.
8. My in-laws. It’s not everyone who can say they truly love their mother and father-in-law, and I am so blessed to say that I do.
9. My sister-in-law Maria. The funniest person I know and a true master chef.
10. My niece Genevieve. Just look at that face!
11. The right to vote and those who labored for generations to give me that right.
12. Our veterans, many of whom died to defend that right.
13. My education.
14. Our home, safe and warm.
15. Making a wonderful group of girlfriends in Milwaukee this year.
16. The relationships I’ve formed through blogging. I never would have imagined I’d meet some of my best friends online.
17. The ability to TRAVEL!
18. Related: The fact that this post is coming to you while I am in Thailand(!)
19. While I’m at it: the internet.
20. That time I waded into a cranberry bog.
21. My health.
22. The first run in a new pair of athletic shoes.
23. Fluffy bath towels.
24. Scoring a parking space in the front row.
25. Our next-door neighbors, most of whom have known Ben his whole life.
26. The Milwaukee skyline.
27. An empty dishwasher.
28. This stellar group of Wisconsin food bloggers.
29. My cookbook collection.
30. Apple picking.
31. Dinners with Ben on our back porch.
32. Any other time I can eat outside. Bonus when the setting is this beautiful.
33. When I sort laundry and no socks have gone missing.
34. This year’s trip to Sonoma.
35. Emojis, especially this one: ?
36. Turning on the car and hearing my favorite song start on the radio.
37. Turning 30 and living to tell the tale.
38. Yummy-smelling candles that make our house feel cozy.
39. Visits from out-of-town friends.
41. Access to clean water.
43. And taco Tuesdays at our favorite Tex-Mex spot.
44. The way the grass smells after it rains.
45. Every Saturday Ben spends raking our leaves. Season-to-date: 8,400 cubic feet of leaves, according to Ben’s math. (I’m serious.)
46. Our new gas stove.
47. Hitting all the green lights.
48. Freshly brewed coffee.
49. My super-duper warm winter coat.
50. A good pair of warm socks.
51. Bright red fall leaves.
52. The extra hour of sleep when daylight saving time ends.
53. Any day I don’t set the alarm.
54. Thursday morning spin class.
55. When the seat next to me on the plane is miraculously empty.
56. My trusty, broken-in brown boots.
57. Birthday cake.
58. Indoor plumbing.
59. Finding surprise cash in a pair of jeans.
60. Farmers markets.
61. Being a total tourist and not caring one bit.
62. Productive afternoons.
63. When there’s no line at airport security.
64. People who hold the door for others.
65. A photography workshop I attended this year that allowed me to take this photo and build my confidence in myself as a photographer.
66. Free music in public places.
67. Anytime someone else cooks dinner.
68. Snail mail.
69. Social media, which, for all its drawbacks, makes it possible for me to keep in touch with friends I would not otherwise.
70. Surprise phone calls from old friends.
72. When the person in front of you at the grocery store lets you go ahead in line because you have fewer items.
75. Happy-hour drinks, accompanied by multi-hour chats with girlfriends.
76. When avocados are on sale.
77. Free shipping.
79. To Kill a Mockingbird, my favorite book.
80. Dark chocolate. Always.
81. And goat cheese. And sharp cheddar and…
82. Free samples at Trader Joe’s.
83. Tandem bikes. They just make me smile.
84. Fuzzy slippers.
85. Sunsets on the lake.
86. Cheesy Christmas movies.
87. Nights spent staying up too late chatting with friends.
89. When the sky is so blue and beautiful it nearly hurts my eyes.
90. Our neighborhood deer. They drive me crazy and eat the hostas but manage to look cute doing it.
91. Google Maps.
92. The satisfying feeling that follows cleaning out a closet or reorganizing a pantry.
93. When the sun stays out until 9 p.m. in the summer.
94. Having exact change.
96. Parallel parking on the first attempt.
98. Staying in on Friday night to watch movies.
99. Finding old photos.
And a very special thank you to…
I am beyond grateful to YOU, my readers. Without you, my blog, this place that I cherish, into which I pour my time and my heart, and that enables me to do what I love for a living, could not exist as it does without your support. Whether this is your first time on my website or your 500th, I am sincerely grateful that you are here.
Thankfulness Lists from prior years*
*Please note that I do not go back and reread prior years’ lists before writing my next one so that I have a clearer mind. You will no doubt see some repeats, and I am completely fine with that. I hope I stay grateful for each of these things, year after year!