In my family, and in many others, there is a tradition where we go around the dinner table, filled with extended family, with one simple question: What are you thankful for and why? Every year, I always come up with something stupid like my dogs, or food, or family without really thinking into it. This year, that question really has me thinking, and I think it should really get you thinking, too. Here are nine things–in order–that I’m thankful for, every single day.
9. The Holidays (Christmas and Thanksgiving)
The holidays are an amazing time of year. Not only is there incredible food during both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you also get to put on your favorite holiday outfit AND jam out to some Christmas music. The day Christmas music starts on the radio is the day it is played nonstop in our home. Not to mention the sentimental family time that is spent with extended family near the fireplace watching “Charlie Brown Christmas”, “It’s A Wonderful Life” and, of course, “Elf”.
Without today’s technology – like computers, cell phones, and televisions – there are a lot of things that I would not be doing right now. I would most definitely not be writing for this website, or be able to binge watch shows on Netflix, I wouldn’t be able to find the tinder love of my life (kidding) or be able to talk to my friends without actually talking to them, and without televisions, how could I possibly watch the Islanders lose all the time or watch hundreds of Christmas movies??
7. Breaking Up with My Ex
Most people would say something like, “Why would I recognize my ex on Thanksgiving??” but me, I’m not your average gal. Breaking up with my
cheating, liar, asshole of an ex helped me through a lot of things. Yes, it made my trust – in pretty much anyone – go to shit, and yes, it did make me miserable for months on end. I must say that I am truly thankful for breaking up with my ex. It has helped me through seeing what I need in life, it has helped me open my eyes to things right in front of me instead of looking past them, it has helped me grow into the strong, independent person I am today, and it has helped me realize that I really do have to live every single day like there’s no tomorrow. So, yes, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my ex, for new beginnings.
6. The Staff and Kids that I Work With
This is kind of a weird thing to be thankful for, I know. I work in my local school district for the Before and After Care Program. The program allows full-time working parents to drop off their children at their elementary school between 7:30 am and 9:00 am, then pick them up after school between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm. They leave them in our care with other children in the same situations. We work together as a team to make the children the happiest they can be, and I get to run around and play and act like a kid again! The staff show me how to be a leader by helping the kids lead their own lives and be independent. To say the least, I love my job.
5. The New York Islanders
As much as we are in the bottom 3 teams in the league, I will always have a very large spot in my heart for NYI, win or lose. Seeing them grow, fail, succeed, be a team, makes my inner child come out like a kid at the candy store. I do have a few choice words for certain parts of the team, but this is a time for thanks, not strongly worded articles on why they suck.
4. My Best Friend from College and for Life
Let me tell you about my best friend. This girl is constantly telling me how it is no matter what. She is always having my back, even when I get on her very last nerve. We are very giving to each other, forever taking one for the team. She always knows the right thing to say (unless it’s to a boy), she absolutely LOVES my cooking, she’s there for me whenever I need her, she’s absolutely beautiful, she’s the best cuddler, and she has all the potential in the world to be whatever she wants to be. I feel like I’m talking her up for an interview or a blind date, but the qualities of my best friend make her my best friend and I truly wouldn’t trade her for anything.
3. My Best Friend Throughout High School, My Second Sister
This girl is fierce, she is always there – with style – no matter what. She is someone who can cry to me and I can cry to her, no matter how long we haven’t spoken. We pick up where we left off. We have this card tradition, where we give each other cards for our birthday or graduation that have NOTHING to do with the occasion, easily one of my favorite traditions. We also have this time capsule, it shall be opened in June of 2017, which is 5 years after it was made (and I still think we should wait another 5 years). She always finds a way to love me even when we want to rip each others heads off. There is never a silent moment, and there are TONS of laughs. Not to mention she is an amazingly strong, independent person who I admire and look up to every single day.
2. My Extended Family
If I could tell you how much family I really have, it’s almost ridiculous (in a good way, of course). On my mother’s side, I have 3 aunts. My aunts are incredible. Cathy, my spirit animal, is such free-spirited, yoga loving, cat lady, that absolutely has my heart — she also edits every one of my articles. Serena, my godmother, is a fun loving, owl loving, bundle of joy with nothing but a smile on her face, even in the worst conditions. Danielle, I don’t see very often, but that’s because we have very different schedules and lives, and that’s okay, I love her anyway. My uncles, Mark and Michael, are two of the funniest, charming, lovable uncles a girl could ever ask for. Honestly, there is so much to say about the two of them, including the bromance they have going with my dad. My older cousins, Melissa, Emily, Daniel, and Steven, are also amazing people, constantly giving me advice and making me laugh. I have such a special bond with each and every one of them — I must say, our “Mean Girls” group chat is my all time fav.
On my father’s side, I have 3 uncles, who a couple of them secretly favor me because I’m the first grandchild on my dad’s side. John, the second oldest, is a heartfelt jokester, who always likes to have a good time, mess around, and have amazing parties. Anthony, my godfather, is one of the sweetest, most kind and lovable people you will ever meet. Mikey, the youngest, is someone I can definitely connect with; he promised to go sky diving with me, what’s not to love?!? Although we don’t see each other as much as I’d like to, I know all of my uncles are always there for me whenever I need them. My two aunts, Danielle and Melissa, are both amazing role models and just badass aunts! My younger cousins, John, Justin, Jayde, Lia, A.J., and Elly are the best kids to have for cousins; they’re a constant reminder not to screw up my life because they’re looking up to me as the oldest.
I must say that I am blessed enough to have all four incredible grandparents in my life. My grandparents on my mother’s side, Grandpa and Nana, are two genuinely fun loving, intelligent, and funny people. They live in Jensen Beach, FL these days, so it’s not common we see them, but every time we do it’s like they never left. My grandparents on my father’s side, Papa and Grandma, are two super fun, laugh till they make you cry kind of people. Papa is one hell of a cook, and Grandma is one of my closest friends — they love me a lot (I’m their first grandchild, and I’m very proud of it).
1. My Family, the Core Four
Where do I even start with these three. My father, Joe, is a dad like no other. He is whole-hearted, fun, competitive, hard working, exciting, superstitious, New York Islander-loving, cool, loving father, and there is absolutely no one like him. He will let me sit on him and hug him when I’m home, even when the Islanders game is on. He will laugh at my jokes even when they aren’t meant to be funny. He supports me in everything I do, and he tries to talk to me every day. He is the only man I will ever need in my life, and I am quite proud to say that I am, indeed, a Daddy’s Girl.
My mother, Joan, is a mom that, many tell me, they envy me for. She is not only an incredible mother who raised me and my sister with all of her amazing customs and traditions, but she is a friend. She has taught us respect, loyalty, and love. My mother is someone I go to with absolutely everything, even when she doesn’t know what I’m talking about half the time. I can honestly say I would not trade my mother for the world. I would take a bullet for her, run in front of a train, or even go through high school a SECOND TIME for her; I mean she gave birth to me for Pete’s sake, I kind of owe it to her.
My sister, Kayla *hyphen* Ann No-Middle-Name Clare Kotowicz, is absolutely, without a doubt, the best thing that has ever happened to me. Not only is she fierce, she is strong, and independent, and loyal, and loving, and the list can really go on for hours and hours on end. Although we’ve had our rough patches, – what siblings haven’t – this child is easily my best friend. We talk about everything and anything, we cry together, we laugh together, we sing in the car together, we go through hell and back together; no matter what it is, we’re always going to be together, even if we’re millions of miles away. Reasons I look forward to coming home from college is that girl. Yes, I’m excited to see my parents and my dogs, but I know when I go home, we’re going to spend as much time as possible together. Before I lose whatever readers I actually have left, let me cut this short. My sister is my world, and I would be nothing without her.
Next Thanksgiving, I truly hope this article inspires you to think very hard about what YOU are actually thankful for. I know what I’m actually thankful for, for the first time in forever.