It’s Christmas Eve, and that means tomorrow is Christmas! Looking back over the year, there are so many things that have made this year a challenge. Things that are painful, things that are stressful and things that are just frustrating. The year started out with news, both good and bad. My sister was in Australia for Christmas and New Years where she made the announcement that she was engaged. We were super excited!
Then the news came that my Papa (grandpa) was very sick. By the middle of January, the tests showed it was most likely some kind of cancer. By the end of January, he passed away after battling liver cancer. So we spent most of January away, visiting him and doing our best to support the rest of my family. With that backdrop, the year looked like it was going to be a bleak one. Looking back now, some of the first things that jump to mind do indicate it was a tough year.
Papa passed away, work seemed to be a constant tug of war between doing my job and not being permitted to do my job. My boss was fired, and work politics exploded before I was made redundant. In amongst all that work politics spread into church politics, making it almost impossible to attend any kind of church event without people asking questions. Then growths on Pops hands (my other grandpa) were diagnosed after many years as being tumours. Spots on his face that had previously always been diagnosed as fungal growths were rediagnosed as skin cancer, and he spent six weeks in hospital undergoing treatment.
Then, of course, my Nan had a heart attack, and my dad and father-in-law have both had health issues. It’s been a wild year.
As I have been looking back over the past week at all that’s happened, I’ve realised, there is a lot that has happened to be thankful for. So I was inspired. Many people and organisations are promoting various 12 days of Christmas events, sales, and so on. So I thought I’d put together 12 things I’m thankful for from the past year. It’s impossible to be negative and grateful at the same time. So if you are going through something terrible right now, I’d encourage you to think about the things that you are thankful for. No matter how small, it can all make a difference to how you are feeling and help you to cope with the tough times. If you need to write it down, write it down, and if you’d like to share anything in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
So, here are twelve things I’m thankful for from 2017 roughly in chronological order.
What can I say, I’ve been so blessed to have my awesome wife by my side, supporting me and working with me through all that has happened this year. I’m so thankful for her and everything that she does on a daily basis. Without here there is no way we could have done everything that I am thankful for, and so I am incredibly grateful that God brought us together and that we share the same beliefs and ideals.
2. We started an Airbnb.
Right back at the start of this year, we started an Airbnb. It adds a little bit of work to our weekly routine, and it took us a few months to really get it up and running well, but this provided some extra income throughout the year. It turned out, God knew we were going to need it later in the year when it got busy and helped to take a chunk of the financial pressure off after I was made redundant. On top of that, we’ve gotten to meet so many different people which is an ongoing fantastic experience!
3. My uncle got married.
The wedding was virtually at the opposite end of the state and turned out to be only three days before Papa passed away. We were able to get there though, and we streamed it to Papa in the hospital via Skype. I know he was so happy to be able to watch his youngest son marry a woman that shared similar beliefs.
4. Visited Noumea, Mystery Island, Isle of Pines and Mare with my parents.
For a few weeks, we thought we might have to cancel our booking. However, our cruise turned out to be perfectly timed. It was just under two weeks after Papa’s funeral before we were off on Voyager of the Seas with my parents. It was their first cruise and gave us the perfect opportunity to debrief and recover together after the stress of the previous month. This was also the first time we had been to Mare, so it was just such a beautiful way to celebrate Papa’s life with family. It’s amazing the way God lines things up.
5. We made a couple of new friends whom we value dearly.
We don’t generally socialise a lot, and we don’t quickly make new friends, so when we do, we are incredibly thankful to have met them and become friends.
6. Cruised to Hawaii via New Zealand and French Polynesia, visiting Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora.
This was something we had booked a year in advance and fell towards the middle of 2017. It had been a dream of ours to visit Bora Bora, and the opportunity arose to go on a transpacific cruise with my in-laws that stopped in at three French Polynesian ports! It also took us to Hawaii where we spent a couple of days before flying home. Along the way, we also got to see some parts of New Zealand we haven’t explored before, so this was a fantastic trip we would do again in a heartbeat. It was such a blessing to be able to see such beautiful, unique parts of the world. While we were on the cruise, we also found out that my sisters wedding was going to be in Japan only a couple of months after we got home.
7. So, a few months later we visited Japan for my sister’s wedding and explored Hokkaido and Tokyo.
Her wedding was in Yokohama, but we’ve long wanted to go to Hokkaido, and it turned out to be a good time of year for it. So we spent 6 days road tripping Hokkaido before the wedding followed by a couple of days in Tokyo before heading home. This was such an excellent trip, and we felt so blessed to have the opportunity to explore another utterly unique part of this world while also celebrating my sister’s wedding.
8. Wifey finished up her work in Sydney and no longer has to commute there, meanwhile, I was made redundant.
She was commuting down to Sydney all the time, so she was always exhausted. We decided together that it was too much and was not good for her health, so she finished up. A couple of months later (and after all my work politics), I was made redundant. It’s not necessarily a good thing, but I really count it as a blessing because our stress levels both went way down. Kind of odd since we were both unemployed. That said, my redundancy is part of the blessing because that gave us a financial buffer to begin building back up my digital marketing business, TerraMedia.
9. I started working for myself again, running TerraMedia, the digital marketing business I had been running before I began working with It Is Written Oceania.
I loved my job, so I had no plans on working for myself again, but since doing so, my stress has been way down, and I’ve found ways to combine what I loved about It Is Written Oceania with my own business. So I consider this new chapter as a huge blessing that I’m very thankful for.
10. Nanna survived her heart attack, and Pops cancer treatments went well.
I’m thankful she recovered quite quickly from her heart attack, and she has been looking after herself since. Meanwhile, after Pops tumours and skin cancers were diagnosed, it seemed like the doctors might recommend against treatment given his age. They went ahead though, and while the procedure was awful, I’m thankful that it was successful and he is making a full recovery.
11. My little brother graduated university with honours.
My baby brother has been working hard for the last four years on his bachelor’s degree, and just a couple of weeks ago he graduated with honours. We were able to attend his graduation ceremony in Canberra and celebrate the end of his studies with him. We are so thankful we could celebrate the end of one chapter and start this exciting new chapter with him!
12. Blogging and vlogging.
I’ve gotten to explore YouTube and blogging so much more through my channel, this blog, and my TerraMedia blog since being made redundant. I love writing and sharing about the world, technology, and how I try to live a meaningful life, so it’s been such a blessing to have some time to explore this more since being made redundant. I hope you’ve found it helpful too!
As I was compiling this list, I realised there are so many things to be thankful for. Even just the fact that we are able to spend Christmas and the remainder of the year with family, including my sister from Japan. In spite of the sad events, there were so many times this year that my extended family came together and spent a lot of time with each other, something that doesn’t happen very often normally.
God provides things we don’t realise we need until after it’s happened, and whether you believe in Him or not, I think that looking over the year in review, there can indeed be things that line up better than we could have ever planned them ourselves. I hope you can find at least a couple of things that you can be thankful for this Christmas, and I challenge you to put down a list of 12. While you are thinking about it, you’ll find things that you just have to smile about, I’m sure.
And with that, I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and leave you with this video of the Christmas light show at Melbourne Town Hall.