anne mikolay 2012 120I am not one for New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are filled with good intentions quickly overtaken by temptation. A vow to refuse sweets, for example, completely disappears when I’m offered a black and white cookie. My resolve to work harder and increase productivity proves null and void the moment I see a flock of birds gathering at the feeder, beckoning me outside. Whether I am easily distracted and/or poorly focused matters little; resolutions are not for me, so it was rather odd when, at the close of 2015, I deemed the coming year “365 Days of Thanksgiving” and vowed to record something I was thankful for on each and every day of 2016. I must admit that even as I picked up my pen to make that first notation on January 1, 2016, I regarded my undertaking as pointless, yet somehow I was compelled to press on.

And now I know why.

2016 was a horrible year filled with sorrow, illness, loss, and too many disappointments to count for me and for my family. Though I bolstered myself with platitudes (things will get better in time; there’s nowhere to go but up; blah, blah, blah), every passing month just beat me down. There were days I had to search pretty hard to find something good to record in my thanksgiving journal, but I persevered. Whether it was something as simple as a warm muffin at Perkins, or petting a stranger’s dog, I made certain I found something, however small, to be thankful for each day. As 2016 slips into 2017, and I review the entries in my thanksgiving journal, I have made some interesting self-discoveries which give me the fortitude to press on.

My “365 Days of Thanksgiving” revealed what is most important in my life. Every entry revolved around my family, my pets, animals, nature, helping other people. These are the things that make me tick; these are my reasons for living. More importantly, I realize it was no accident that I was moved to contemplative thanksgiving in 2016, a year of sorrow. Those who preach that God gives you what you need when you need it are correct. Recording small delights and wonders in my journal reminded me that even in pain, joy still exists. Through all of 2016, I needed to be mindful that, as the saying goes, “Not every day is good, but there’s something good in every day.”

Here’s to 2017, hopefully a kinder, gentler year for me, for you, for our Nation!