A Childhood Worth Celebrating.

Many people use Thanksgiving as a day to count their blessings. A day to reflect and give thanks. However, as we all know (but may not be very good at actually doing), we should give thanks everyday for the opportunities and blessings that we have in our lives. The blessings of food, shelter, water and air. The blessing to be born in a country that is not in a state of war, or one that persecutes people for their religious or other personal beliefs. The blessing to have a large family that loves you, even when you are all driving each other crazy. The blessing to have a bed to lie in, a warm cup of tea, and socks on our feet.

Today is a day of giving thanks for blessings big and small.

I have many things to be thankful for and grateful for. Blessings that I can count each and every day, not just on the day where you are supposed to count them.

I am lucky. I truly have been so blessed in my life.

For November, I took on the blessing a day challenge, and have a list of things that I am thankful for. An item for each day, it’s now 28 blessings deep. The happy part of this challenge is that it was not a difficult task for me, and I honestly could have written more than one thing per day (and sometimes did).  However, no need to worry, I won’t be providing my list here. Instead, I’ve decided just to write about one blessing that I believe has been so instrumental in forming and helping to provide me with the rest of my blessings:

I was born into an amazing childhood.

There is no denying it (although I know my 10 or 12 or even 16 year old self would have argued otherwise at times…).

I had two parents that loved me, two sisters to grow up with, a large family that was enveloping and close (most of them lived within a 5 mile radius), and was raised to remain humble and modest.

Growing up, I had experiences that provided tough love and skills to last a lifetime.

My mom was my 4-H leader, my youth group leader, and all around cheerleader for my life. She watched my field hockey and softball games, and encouraged me to learn to ski, play the clarinet, the piano, to cook, sew, wire lamps, and learn woodworking. She also let me and my friends do crazy things like build a giant 6 foot tree out of wire, cardboard and duct tape in the basement for a competition we were once in… But more importantly she also knew to let me have experiences and encourage me to venture out on my own for week long summer camps in the Adirondacks where I learned to love camping, kayaking, sailing, hiking, and how to build lifelong friendships over the course of a few days. (Even though it scared the crap out of me, being the shy introverted 9 year old kid that I was – these experiences taught me how to be more independent and outgoing.)

My dad worked hard (and still works hard) every day on the family farm to bring the best quality eggs to the local restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, and homes. Raising chickens, growing the crops, feeding the flock, gathering the eggs, packing the eggs and of course scooping the manure. I may have complained about having to help out on the farm sometimes but I’m so grateful for the work ethic my father and the lifestyle taught me.

[As a side note: I’m also grateful that my dad never got (too) angry when he came home and discovered the house was littered with barbies, legos, and homemade play dough – or when my sisters and I had the couch cushions strung around the living room so we didn’t have to touch the floor which had turned to molten lava while he was out in the barn. Thanks Dad, you’re the best! Love, Your Favorite (no worries, your secret is safe with me) Eldest (is this safer?) Daughter]

Yes, I’ll admit it. As a child, I was often embarrassed that I grew up on a farm. Embarrassed that I had skills to successfully cook (this was before the foodie movement), sew and design outfits (before project runway was even an idea in some producer’s brain) and build a shelf or other woodworking project . Embarrassed that I was different. I didn’t have the latest clothes, video games, or toys. I didn’t get to just go walk down the street to hang out with friends, go to the mall to shop, or head to see the latest movie whenever I wanted.

What I did had was so. much. better.

Even if I didn’t realize it until later in life when I got to college.

Even if I’m still realizing it.

Seriously, how many people that are 29 years old know how to cook, bake, construct a front porch, sew a quilt, knit a sweater, take every opportunity she could to travel, and finish a mid-distance triathlon? (And are crazy enough to sign up again… more on that later).

Seriously. I. am. weird. different. That’s never going to change. Nor do I want it to.

I look at my life and sometimes don’t know how I became the person that I am today. It’s a little crazy when I think about it. How did I learn to do all of these things, and when did I become the girl that is always looking for the next adventure to go on? When I start to wonder these things, I realize, I just need to look at my childhood and thank my parents. I was encouraged to learn everything that I could, to pursue my dreams, and to never give up or give in when things are tougher than you thought they would be.

So this Thanksgiving, I want to take a moment to publicly thank my Mom and Dad for not letting me have the newest toys and gadgets, for not letting me go to the mall to hang with friends, and for making me work on the farm during the weekends. You both taught me more than I could ever hope to teach my own children (when the time comes), and provided me with a best thing a child could ever wish for – endless love and a childhood worth celebrating.

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