Unlikely Things to Be Grateful For This Holiday Season

During the holidays, it's easy to be thankful for friends, family and good food. But what about those challenges we face? Our student loan debt? Heartbreak? Read how I'm finding gratitude in everything this year. | MissFunctional Money #gratitude #mindfulness #moneysavingtips #lifehacks

One of my favorite holiday clichés is how reflective bloggers get around the holidays. OK, that’s not fair — everyone gets reflective around the holidays.

People are — oh, what’s the word? — sappy. It’s the perfect time to reflect on what’s happened in the last year, what goals are in place for the upcoming year, and what we are most thankful for in life.

I’m being sincere, by the way. It’s kind of corny and a shame that all that thankfulness is squished into one month like a sumo wrestler on the NYC metro system, but it’s part of what makes the holidays feel so warm and fuzzy. And I love it.

As a naturally introspective person, it’s not hard for me to come up with a list of things that I love — things for which I’m grateful. I spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Things I’m always grateful for:

  1. My husband.

  2. The love and support of family.

  3. The love and support of tacos.

  4. A few dear, special friends that will do water aerobics with me when we’re old.

  5. Gainful employment.

  6. Proximity to the beach. And the rivers. And the creeks.

  7. A safe, cozy space to lay my head at night. (That space is often encroached upon by a large, ginger-bearded man but let’s not split hairs.)

  8. Time to blog.

    … and on and on the list goes.

But this year, I’m trying to find it in my tender little heart to be deeply, truly grateful for some unlikley candidates.

Essentially, it’s a list of Things That I Hate and Am Still Holding A Grudge About, only I’m flipping it on its head. Because I am a sophisticated, forward-thinking blogger. Obviously.

I was recently reminded (again) of just how precious and fleeting our time on Earth is. And as heady and obnoxious as that sounds, it’s a very real reminder to be thankful for the here, the now. To be mindful in the moment.

As important as it is to plan for the big picture, it’s vital that you appreciate your day-to-day life. Because after all:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. | Annie Dillard quote | MissFunctional Money #moneytalk #savemoney #gratitude

And for me, I want to live a life of gratitude. So call me Pollyanna because I’m trying my darnedest to find a silver lining in all of the things that weigh on my chest and make me roll my eyes.

Find peace here. Find joy now. Or else, when?

Unlikely things I’m (trying to be) grateful for in 2019

  1. Student Loans

    I haven’t yet disclosed our student loan debt amount on the blog, and frankly, I haven’t decided IF/when/how much information I should share. To be completely honest, I I don’t know if I ever will. I’m still navigating my online anonymity, and what revealing my number would look like if I ever decided to not be anonymous. So if I ever decide that’s part of my ~*brand story*~ I’ll holler.

    Here’s the quick recap: I graduated from my undergraduate degree without any debt thanks to partial academic scholarships, generous parents and workplace reimbursement. But I married into a lot of student loans. Like, a lot. Whatever number you’re picturing, triple it.

    (See why I should reveal our numbers?! Think of the clickbait!)

    My husband didn’t enter into these loans stupidly or thoughtlessly. He now has an advanced degree that yields an income ready to tackle this mountain of debt.

    It was weird marrying into these large numbers I’d never even really fathomed before, but I’ll save that story for its own post another day.

    I know what you’re thinking: “Boy, oh boy, SC, being enslaved to debt sounds about as pleasant as sitting on 600 Legos for the duration of a cross-country road trip!”

    You’re not far off, friend!

    But when we start to feel trapped, I try to focus on these three things:

    Without this debt, I wouldn’t have met my husband. He ended up in Charleston because he had earned this advanced degree, simple as that. I don’t know what you believe about fate or whether we would’ve crossed paths eventually, but I’m glad our story unfolded the way that it did, when it did.

    He does earn a high income that wouldn’t be attainable — at least not for a long, long time — without this debt. Once we pay it off, we’ll be able to live comfortably and provide for young heathens, should I ever birth them. Many people miss out on the opportunity to even attempt to earn this higher education, and so I am grateful he was in a situation that allowed him to work for it.

    It gives us purpose right now. Having this debt hanging over our heads keeps us motivated and focused to work hard. I’m not saying my life wouldn’t have purpose if we didn’t have this massive amount of debt. But we are both goal-oriented people, and also obnoxiously endearingly competitive, so it’s productive for us to have this specific number to work toward deleting.
    And man, I can’t wait for that day they are deleted forever.

  2. Waiting.

    I am impatient.

    Impatience is one of my more unsavory qualities, and one I’ve been made even more keenly aware of since I got married.

    I like to think I’m impatient in that adorable way some rom-com leads are — you know, the woman blurts out how she wants to go all in with the guy, and if he could just get his act together that they could make it work and didn’t he want to make it work because surely this isn’t all in her head … and then some variation of Jude Law puts one finger to her lips, gets down on one knee and proposes marriage. That’s cute.

    And on a superficial level, I am that type of impatient — I J-walk and stop the microwave before it’s done and abhor the slow-moving check-out lines at Home Goods (actually, that’s a budget saver for me; I don’t go simply because I cannot STAND to wait in that line.)

    But on a deeper level, I get antsy about the “not yets” and the “one days.”

    There are some things in life I just don’t get to be in control of — things that won’t get done at exactly the moment that I want to do them. I can plan mindfully, work strategically and overthink as much as I want, but for some things, I just have to sit back and be patient.

    And I’m learning that it doesn’t have to be scary. It’s an enormous release of pressure.

    I’m grateful for that.

  3. “No.”

    If you’ve followed along with this blog for the last few weeks, you’ve likely read about my break-up with ballet (I wrote about it here, and wrote what looks like a small novella here). And at this point, you’re probably thinking, ‘Omg we get it — you danced. Get over yourself.’

    I’m grateful for the chance to have a fresh start. A second life.

    I was absolutely devastated when I learned I wasn’t wanted by ballet anymore. But I was also incredibly relieved. Had I not been politely elbowed off the stage, I may have carried on an uncertain path filled with a wishy-washy feeling of “what if.”

    You’ll have to read the whole story if you’re interested in the context, but it was made clear that my future with the company I was with was a “NO.”

    I’ll admit that I struggle with indecision — and I mean on the big things and the insignificant. (e.g. Should we have chicken or pizza tonight?!?! Which shoes look better with this dress?!?!! Should I quit my job?!?!)

    Yes, deciding which colleges to apply to was painful and full of procrastination. Equally painful for me, however, are those buffet-style cafeteria restaurants where you pick out what you want and move on down the line.

    The drama.

    The panic.

    Okra or peaches?! I CAN’T CHOOSE DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE. * heavy breathing *

    My family still teases me for that.

    So for me, sometimes it’s a blessing to have an option taken off the table.

    I’m grateful for the clarity.


    Oh My Quad: An Ode to Pure Barre

    When Is It OK to Quit Your Passion?

  4. Heartbreak.

    I debated bringing this one up, because I’m not sure how you like your personal life | personal finance blog post ratio.*

    But … my blog, not yours, so here it goes:

    I once had a person I thought I had a future with. Then I didn’t.

    He didn’t treat me like an equal part of the equation.

    We were young. And it hurt.

    But I am grateful for the brutal, bloody mess that my heart endured because I learned a lot about myself in the process.

    For example, I am loyal to a fault. I clung to that one way too long because of it. I am stubborn. I learned that compromise is a part of any relationship, as long as the other person is compromising too. I learned my own expectations of how I should be treated.

    I raised those expectations.

    Then, I met someone who came along and knocked every single expectation out of the ballpark.

    (With the exception of just how much space a human can absorb on a couch. I was not expecting that.)

    And as unbearably corny as it sounds, that heartbreak led me to where I am today. Happy, full and married to the world’s most patient man. Of course, that’s EXACTLY the type of thing you really don’t want to hear if you have a broken heart. But as the great philosopher Darius Rucker once said:

    Thank God for all I missed
    'Cause it led me here to this


I highly recommend running through your own list of grudges and gripes, and pinpointing exactly what you have to be grateful for. There are some things that a human should never, ever have to endure — painful, cruel things. But I gotta tell ya, student loans doesn’t make that list, and so I’m approaching 2019 with a little bit of perspective.

I have it pretty good.

And that’s plenty to be thankful for.

OK, sap story over. Back to your regularly scheduled money talk next week.
What unlikely experiences or heartaches are you thankful for? Is there any new perspective you have now that you didn’t have then? Comment below and let me know what makes your list moving into the new year.

What unlikely things are you thankful for this holiday season?

*In fact, can you comment below with your answer pretty please? I love hearing the more personal details of a blogger’s life so that their money talk is put into context, but I could also just be nosy as heck. What do you think? Should I stick exclusively to money talk?

During the holidays, it's easy to be thankful for friends, family and good food. But what about those challenges we face? Our student loan debt? Heartbreak? Read how I'm finding gratitude in everything this year. | MissFunctional Money #gratitude #mindfulness #moneysavingtips #lifehacks
During the holidays, it's easy to be thankful for friends, family and good food. But what about those challenges we face? Our student loan debt? Heartbreak? Read how I'm finding gratitude in everything this year. | MissFunctional Money #gratitude #mindfulness #moneysavingtips #lifehacks