Happy New Year



Americans have Thanksgiving to designate a time of thankfulness and appreciation. After the whirlwind of the party season, the simple joy of giving someone a present and of course the countdown to the New Year, I like to take time at the end of the year to reflect and count my blessings.


Family: I know a few fortunate souls who live within half an hour of their family, but let’s face it a lot of us don’t live in the same city of our parents, our childhood, our memories. The world of Skype and email has definitely made the world much smaller, but it doesn’t replace the touch of a loved one or the silly banter of a sister. I may not live near my family (although it is just a hop and a skip away) but I know I have their love and support.


Friends: In the Facebook stakes I do not have friends in the high hundreds, but every single one of my friends has made an impression on my life. Some live far away, some are just next door (a few stations down on the train) but they all make my life that little bit richer.


Health: It’s true when they say you don’t miss something unless you’ve lost it, and thankfully I still have my mind, my sight, my hearing, my sense of smell and taste, and my body is still going strong.


Beauty and laughter all around us: Sometimes it may seem as if the world is a bit tired and grey and the person sitting across from you could look a little more cheerful, but it really is all up to you to look for that tiny spark of colour. The more you do it, the bigger that spark becomes until, like Dorothy, your surroundings turn into glorious Technicolor. I have no qualms chuckling out loud on a crowded train or immersing myself into a lovely book. I have my desk facing the window and the scene outside, whilst rarely spectacular, is nevertheless always interesting.


Photo credit: Phil Wood via flickr

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Saying thank you is good for you.


Sunday just passed was Mother’s Day in many parts of the world (except the UK where mothers get their day of appreciation in March). I remember the numerous art projects I subjected my mother to throughout my elementary years. My proudest moment was presenting her with a papier mache apple, complete with stalk, painted ruby red and dotted with bright yellow spots (let’s not dwell on the significance of giving the woman who bore me an apple afflicted with measles).


Next month will be Father’s Day in all parts of the world (I’m quite sure everyone celebrates it in June), but experience tells me there will be slightly less furore over the third Sunday in June. Aside from the local pizza chains and other Italian eateries offering 2-for-1 meals to “make Dad happy” and supermarkets showcasing DVDS “that Dad would love” (Die Hard 3 anyone?) Father’s Day tends to be the slightly quieter cousin to the more popular Mother’s Day. I blame it on the fact that schoolchildren are given art projects every spring, but by the time June rolls around these same schoolchildren are preparing for the end of the school year- if they haven’t already embarked on a months-long summer vacation.


Despite not being really one for Hallmark holidays (Valentine’s Day just isn’t enough to excite me in a dreary, grey February) I think it’s sweet we get to be publicly reminded to thank our parents (why isn’t there Parents Day?). It’s true, without them none of us would be here so in a way we’re all celebrating ourselves as well. Sweet, I say.


Then yesterday I found out that in the US, May 9 is Lost Sock Memorial Day (I sincerely hope for just a minority of people). This got me wondering. I’ve heard of Teacher’s Day, Grandparents’ Day. Secretary’s Day, and Boss’s Day but why do these days exist?


The cynics will say, “Well it’s another way for companies to get consumers to buy more to mark a made-up, non traditional, secular event. Duh!” Yes, but why do people buy these cards to give to their children’s teachers or to their boss? Unlike Valentine’s Day where it may be relationship suicide not to acknowledge it (depending on your partner’s attitudes) these C-list occasions aren’t so mainstream that a person could feel guilty for not offering a token gift.


Everybody has a moment where they want to express thanks. Gratefulness and gratitude are emotions no one should be embarrassed about. Studies have suggested that being grateful is good for your health and wellbeing, by experiencing less depression and stress (or symptoms associated with it like headaches and stomach problems). A recent series of studies has shown that the recipient of your thanks can benefit as well. I say thank you to the little boy who held the door open for me at the juice bar; to the suited man who let me get off the train first; to the bespectacled lady handing me the receipt; to the Northern voice returning my call.


It’s quite easy to thank people in the general outside world, but what about the person educating your child, whose influence will significantly mould him/her in ways unfathomable? Or what about your colleague who shares the ups and downs of your working day, in ways your friends never could? Or your superior (at work, in religion) who you go to for advice and lectures you for your own good?


Imagine if all those cheesy card shop cards were just replaced with a nice scripted “thank you”.

Thank you for putting me through college.

Thank you for using your spare time to help me build that website.

Thank you for being so supportive while I chase our dream.

Thank you for emailing me that Youtube link because you know I like silly cats.

Thank you for reading this.


And thank you for never making me celebrate Lost Sock Memorial Day.


Photo credit: Nate Grigg via flickr

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