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Another year is almost over. We are in the final push for reflecting on our year and thinking about the things that make us thankful. I wrote last year in my blog post The Little Things that being thankful for all the little things was more important than throwing something out there for the sake of something to say before eating Turkey. And I still believe that.

I'm a relatively positive person. With each new day, I try to think of all the good things in my life and be thankful for the life I have, even though it is in no way perfect. I really am grateful for almost everything from hearing "I love you" to a day with nothing to do. So when I'm asked to sit down and write what I am thankful for, I honestly don't know where to begin. How does a person who tries to make a conscious effort to be grateful for everything narrow it down to just a few things?

I've been mulling this question over in my head. Nothing seemed like the right answer. Some things seemed so obvious, others trite. So, I got down to it--what are things that make me happy? Surely those things that give you joy in your private moments are also those that make you thankful. These are my top five for this year (in no certain order):

1) Parents who volunteer their time for the benefit of their children.

Yes, we are all busy in some way or another. And sometimes we don't feel like adding one more thing to our long list of the things that already overwhelm us. But when our kids are involved in an organization that can only function by the time volunteers give, it only seems right to give the time. I am in awe and thankful for the parents who step up to the plate and coach the soccer team, run and organize Scouts, and take on the various fund raisers and events at school. Their drive and willingness to give time motivates me to help more, even when I don't feel like it.

2) My kids have compassion.

Sometimes it seems like kids are all about me, me, me. I guess it's natural that kids are self-centered, because yes, it usually is all about them, them, them. And then there are the times where you see your kid do or say something that shows they care and understand about more than just themselves. About a month ago, I backed into my garage door (please, don't ask!). My son, who happened to be in the garage at the time, looked at me and simply said, "It's okay, mom. It was just an accident." That’s when I started crying. Not because I bent the garage door and popped it out of the track. Not because it was literally the sixth bad thing that happened that day. Not because I scraped my car. It was because he got it. He saw I was upset, and he wanted to let me know it was going to be okay.

3) People who let you know they are thinking about you.

Nothing brightens my day more than a random email or text from out of nowhere from someone (anyone) that just says I was thinking about you. The fact that I came to mind for whatever reason, and that they took the time to let me know, fills me up more than any accolade or award I could ever be given.

4) Dogs riding in cars.

I know, it may sound stupid. But when I'm driving around town, and I see a dog look at me from another car, it just makes me smile. There is something so pure in their happiness as they stick their heads out the window smiling as if that moment is the most important moment in their life. It reminds me that pets love their people unconditionally. I'm grateful to know that there is such a capacity to do that.

5) The ability to laugh at myself.

No matter how tough life gets or whatever situation I have found myself in, there is almost always that moment when I say to myself, "Mollie, really?" Oh sure, there are times that I think I'm pretty funny and other times when I cannot believe that something has fallen out of my mouth, but the power to recognize that there is no such thing as perfect and find humor in my imperfections is sometimes about the only thing that carries me forward.

This Thanksgiving, give your usual thanks for all the big things like health, family, and friends. Then, do yourself a favor and sit back and think about the things that make your life easier, the things that help you when you need it most, and the things that make you happy.  The things that often go unrecognized are probably also the things for which you are truly grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Mollie Protzman

Mollie Protzman


Mollie is an Omaha native and a mom of two boys ages 13 and 8. She's been married for 20 years and spent most of those first 10 years living in various cities around the country. Before kids, she was in marketing communications and public relations and then stayed home with her boys for 11 years while doing freelance writing on the side. The day after her youngest one went to kindergarten, she just about went berserk with the quiet in the house and nothing constructiv ...

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