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What You Have, Others Might Not Even Have That Option

Today was really windy and cold… today I wore a dress and heels. So you can imagine my terror when I tried to get an Uber only to find out that everyone else in Chicagoland had the same idea because of the storms, and there weren’t any available for another 15 to 20 minutes. I had ten-ish to walk from the station to work.

As I scurried down Wacker, holding my dress down and tightening my coat as I froze from the cold wind, I realized how thankful I am to even have the option to use my mobile phone to call “everybody’s personal driver.” (That’s Uber’s saying if you aren’t aware.) I realized how thankful I am to have a warm, winter coat to tighten around my body, and I realized how thankful I am to have the ability to (despite how many times my parents taught me to dress for the weather) choose to dress poorly for the weather, not because its my only option.

While everyone knows that there are others around the world with far less, faced with far worse problems.. gratitude and thankfulness is seldom expressed. I’m going to take a moment and dip into one of the biggest controversies to hit this winter season (so far)- Starbucks Holiday Cups. If you aren’t up to tune on the latest debacle, many are offended by the design of the #RedCups this season. The missing snowflakes, swirly winter designs, and sleds (which if I am correct are symbolism of winter, not Christmas in particular?) have deeply upset many people. As I walked down the streets of the heart of downtown Chicago, holding my red cup, I wondered how many people were upset with me… while at the same time, I was SO thankful to even be holding that cup. I have seen many people weigh in on this issue, all with the same message:

We forget and take for granted what we are so lucky to have.

While I am thankful for my life in Chicago, my frivolous things, my Starbucks, Netflix, and the warmth of my fireplace on Saturday mornings… I am thankful for so much more.

My health and wellness. My body. I can walk, talk, smell, see, feel, hear, dance, and run. I am healthy and mobile. My knowledge and intelligence. I am surrounded by opportunity and growth. My job and career. My safety and security in the country I live. My freedom to be exactly who I am and love who I choose. My shelter, my home. My community, family and friends…(including my cats). My support system. I am not alone nor do I need to fear whats ahead or in store.

Take everything else away. Look at the basic hierarchy of needs (Maslow’s. Look it up). We have them now, but whats to stop them from one day disappearing? The saying, anything can happen is more true than I think most realize. As a kid, I remember being asked to share what I was thankful for around the holiday seasons. My siblings and I would say our family, our dog, and a list of toys, video games, favorite stores, and favorite vacation spots (hints to our parents for the next trip). When I was teaching, I asked my students this questions quite often… mostly because I enjoyed the silly things little kids say, like when their big brother doesn’t pick their nose or mommy’s squishy pillow belly. When we are young, we are so new to the world. It isn’t until we are much older, after the ah ha moments set in, that we truly understand how lucky most of us are.

So this holiday season, as we express gratitude and share the things we are grateful for… think about the things that seem so second nature. Our health. Our surroundings. Our opportunities. Be thankful for the things that could one day not be there. Recognize the things in your life that you have that others might not even have the option for. Be thankful for and appreciate every tiny moment of this thing called life.

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