Last year I wrote about what Christmas has meant to me in years passed. Though I still share the same sentiment, this year feels somewhat different. This is a year of firsts. It’s the first year that we have a live Christmas tree, since I was a kid. It will be the first time that I have most of my core family under my very own roof for the day. And it’s the first time I have had my kids Christmas presents purchased before Thanksgiving! I’ll give myself a pat on the back for that one! 🙂 I usually spend the last few days leading up to Christmas running from store to store just trying to find them anything that they would like and hurrying home to get it all wrapped and under the tree. Most years we barely make it by the skin of our teeth to get some small things for the kids and I usually wind up feeling bad that I couldn’t do more or at least all that I wanted to do.

We spent most of the day yesterday, bringing in furniture pieces to accommodate all of the warm bodies that will be filling our home for Christmas day. I got everything set up and feeling comfortable with my thumb print of retro colors and bohemian prints splattered all over the place. It felt amazing to know that everyone who steps into this house will see the personality of my family, draped across everything they see and touch. That they will get to experience the feeling of our home, with us – Because to us, this place is magical. It is what calms us and brings our inner peace to the outward eye.

Last night, my husband and I were wrapping the kid’s presents and as I placed each one under the tree, I felt good. So much has changed this year for the both of us, and our kids have reaped the benefits of those changes. For so long happiness and contentment with life seemed like it was something outside of me, that I had to go find it and bring it home. The switch flipped in both myself and my husband this past year to understanding that we are the only creators of our happiness and that there is always a choice to do and be, whatever it is that makes you the happiest inside. In this, we found our own personal grounding. There are some gifts that money cannot buy. They can’t be meticulously wrapped and snuggled under the soft glow of an ornamental tree. They don’t come in the form of a surprise because there is a build-up to obtaining them — And yet their value is far greater than anything that can be physically held within the palm of your hands.

It isn’t the presents under the tree that make me happy or the fact that we have a tree to put them under, it is giving my kids the chance to experience the feeling of the holiday, the spirit of it. It’s creating new memories instead of reflecting back on old ones gone. The feeling of gratitude for all that we have come through and the direction we, as a family, are collectively heading in. The love that I have for my life now, is unrivaled. The appreciation that I have for those who share in this life alongside me, is immeasurable. I get to wake up each day knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Knowing that my husband is content in his job, enjoys what he does and who all he works with and for. That my kids are happy in their own individual right, and that I am the luckiest woman in the world to have all of this joy, under one roof.

Last year was a year of periodic difficulty. I thankfully got through my sickness to see brighter days and the things that were holding us back to our progress, seemingly evaporated into thin air. I reconnected with old friends whom have always brought a sense of calm to my life, just by simply being in it. I’m doing what I love, which is a big ticket to being happy with your life. I don’t have anything that I can say, that I wish were different. Nothing that I am holding onto that is keeping me rooted in the feeling of living a life, unfulfilled. Am I rich by monetary standards, no, but I am rich in happiness.

As I look at the Christmas decorations and feel the spirit of this holiday bouncing off of each corner of the room, I am thankful. I’m thankful that we finally made it through. That we have all that we need. That we each have another day, another year, to spend in each other’s presence. I am thankful that we will be ending this year with a house full of love and gratitude.

Life is about the journey, where and how every little aspect of it takes us. What we move through, how we get there and what all we’ve learned in the process.

This year I’ve learned to trust myself more. To give what I would in turn want to receive, and to also care enough to see the needs of others within the things that they do — In order to give to them what it is that they need to receive. I have learned that nothing negative is ever worth holding onto – No matter if it is people, places, things or memories. I’ve learned to both set and respect my own boundaries in order to embody a clear example of what is expected from the world outside of me. I’ve learned to let go of anything that no longer serves a purpose in my life and to hold tight to all of the things which truly matter because of the difference that they make. I’ve learned to forgive and to stand tall within my convictions. I’ve learned that love, has no shelf date on it and that grief eventually reaches its own expiration, when we allow it to run its course. I’ve learned to carry gratitude for everything come and gone, because it is a valuable part of the lesson that molds me into who I am and who I desire to be. I learned that happiness comes from within and that if I want it, I then have to create it and no matter how much you share it with others, its value never diminishes. I learned that perception is not only subjective, but that it is also the biggest source of conflict in life, and to give way to the fact that there are many different angles from which I cannot visibly see — Thus the importance of always keeping an opened mind and an equally opened heart. I learned that peace is priceless, nothing matches it and nothing should ever outweigh or overshadow that peace.

There are so many lessons that this year has brought to me and I am not only thankful for having learned them, but for getting to experience the, at times crazy, journey in getting there. As many of you prepare to share in the spirit of the holidays with your loved ones, I want to wish you a Happy Christmas and a hearty cheers to the upcoming new year ahead! May it bring even more insight than years passed and shine a bold light on all of the many reasons to be truly grateful! 🙂