I love holidays, all holidays! My mom always made a big deal out of them when I was a kid: the entire dining room would get completely decorated (every bit), and there would be other small decorations scattered about the house; there would be some sort of present, even just small little goodies like some candy or fun socks, to open with breakfast; even special meals, like green eggs at St. Patrick’s Day or pink pancakes for dinner on Valentine’s Day. The holidays were some of my favorite times, and not just because I was a kid getting presents. Each holiday was special, just the excitement of family time! (Every time I test for my “love language” I flip flop between being word based and action/quality time based. ) My family would play games or watch movies together, and I loved that. Because the holidays were always so special to me, I do my best to continue the celebrations now that I have my own house and husband!
I know that to many people today is “Single’s Awareness Day.” However, because of how I grew up celebrating Valentine’s Day, I was never bitter about being single on Valentine’s Day. Sure, I would get lonely and sad during school, seeing all these other girls walking around with giant teddy bears and flowers… but I would have chocolate from my parents and some fun Valentine’s socks (or a shirt, keychain, etc) to remind me that I wasn’t actually alone. And I’d be going home to something special. You see, our celebrations had me seeing Valentine’s Day as a day to show your love and appreciation to everyone that you love, not just a partner. Even now that I’m married, I do try to let my family know how much I love them on Valentine’s Day, in some way.
Because today is a day of love, I wanted to create a gratitude post dedicated to the love in my life. Not only does it seem fitting to do today, but my mental health has been quite horrible as of late, so it should help with that as well.
My Husband, Dan
Is anyone really surprised that he’s number one? I make no secret of the fact that I’m head over heels in love with my husband. You can read about our love story in the post, “My Personal Romantic Comedy,” that I wrote August 2015. I’ve always had a difficult time socializing and keeping up friendships (I have rather crippling social anxiety), and all of my relationships would end after not too long. Then I met Dan. Somehow, Dan wasn’t turned off by my anxiety, my tendency to talk too much or not enough, my spontaneous attitude, my love for goofy/childlike things, my bizarre sense of humor (even in public), my overdeveloped empathy towards the world (something prone to throw me into crying/ranting fits), nor my mood swings. He wasn’t even bothered by my poor health (well, what we thought was poor at the time). I found I could easily tell him everything, absolutely everything. He quickly became my best friend, and more. Getting married was the best day of my life, because I got to marry the one person who knows me inside out and loved me anyway!
People say that love fades, but after eight years together, I haven’t found that so. Sure, the lust and burning giddiness will fade, but I still get excited when Dan tells me he’s coming home from work. I look forward to spending time with him, even if it’s just hanging out on the couch watching junk TV. On weekends, I just want to do things with him, fun things, and talk about nothing. Sure, we argue and fight, and my mood swings sometimes get atrocious and cause explosive arguments at 2am (well, I explode and he’s too tired to make his brain work). But, despite all of that, we’re still very much in love. I have no idea how he can put up with me most of the time, but I consider myself the luckiest girl in the world. Love didn’t fade at all; if anything it just changed from a bonfire to one of those low smoldering fires that will burn forever if you keep adding wood, nice and hot, and is perfect for marshmallows! (We like s’mores, we make them a lot.) He’s the love of my life, and I will always look forward to him coming home.
(The rest of these aren’t in order.)
My Kitties: Artio and Mikki
When my hedgehog died, we hadn’t wanted to get another pet for quite some time. However, circumstances lead to the need for us to take my parents’ two oldest kitties. My parents had five kitties, and the oldest one (Artio) developed diabetes. The vet wanted to have Artio eating wet food only (specifically the vet formula diabetic wet food) and she needed insulin shots twice a day. My parents did research and discovered that Fancy Feast Classic doesn’t have any carbs in it so it’s suitable for a diabetic diet and much cheaper than the vet food. Unfortunately, the three kittens (not Mikki) were obsessed with wet food and would not leave Artio alone so she could eat. The other kitties also had kibble bowls down, so we’re pretty sure Artio would just wait for my family to go to bed and then scarf down kibble. Obviously, this situation was not ideal.
Mikki hated the three kittens. She’s a Russian Blue and they don’t deal with change very well. She would hide upstairs all day long, stopped playing (and anyone that knows a Russian Blue knows that’s ridiculous because they play like kittens their entire life) entirely, and would just eat and hide. The kittens would bully her, well they’d try to play but she didn’t want to, so there would be cat fights breaking out upstairs daily that my parents would have to break up. All of these circumstances caused Mikki to blow up like a blimp – she’s supposed to weight between 9 and 10 pounds, she weighed 13.5 pounds when we took her. It was extremely sad.
Due to the expenses and difficulty of caring for Artio, we decided it would be best for us to take her. Artio was Mikki’s only kitty friend, and so we decided to take her as well (for her health, safety, and sanity). So, two years ago, we added two wonderful little kitties to our household. Artio’s diabetes came under control relatively quickly. We’ve put a lot of effort into it, but now both cats are also at healthy weights! We also discovered arthritis in Mikki’s elbows, so started both cats on Cosequin. Now both kitties play constantly! Mikki is a little spitfire, and Artio is the sweetest cat you will ever meet. They may drive us up the wall sometimes, but they make my life much better overall. I love my furbabies to the moon and back!
My Immediate Family: Mom, Dad, Christine, Grampa
In a previous gratitude post, I wrote about them briefly. Sadly, Grama died April 2016, very suddenly. I was extremely close with Grama, so this was very rough. You can read about it in these posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Grampa is still alive, however, and I cherish him. I haven’t been as close with him, but I do cherish all of my memories with him. He’s got a wicked sharp sense of humor, and will tease everyone relentlessly. He can be difficult to deal with at times, but I’ve never found it to be problematic. Currently, he’s battling cancer. I don’t know much about it, because he won’t share details with anyone, but I keep hoping he’s going to be okay.
I was a difficult child, and was challenging to deal with. Because of that, I definitely had a rocky relationship with my parents and sister. Christine is only a year and a half younger than me, but we couldn’t be more different in personality. Sadly, because of our differences, we were never very close. Now that I’m an adult, and not living at home, my relationship has improved with all three of them. Despite our differences, however, I’ve always loved my family deeply. I’m not very good at showing my love most of the time, but they did really mean a lot to me. I am always willing to help them when they need me, and I do my best to visit whenever I can afford to do so.
My Dad’s Sister and Her Family
Growing up, we spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house. My aunt and her family (two children and husband) only lived about 4 hours away, so came down quite often as well. My cousins are extremely close to us in age: the oldest one (BB) is only a few months younger than my sister, and his sister (KB) is just about two years younger than him. Being so close in age, we would get extremely excited when we heard our cousins were coming to town (or that we were going to be meeting them halfway). We played together frequently, and were often joined by the triplets that lived next door to my grandparents. The seven of us were extremely close. Christine and I are still very close to our cousins, and my aunt and uncle. We love seeing them regularly. Now, sadly, that we’re grown, it’s much harder to coordinate all the work schedules and visit schedules to get all of us together. However, my dad’s sister and her family are still extremely important to me.
(We were very close with my mom’s sister and her children when we were young. However, they live about a 3 hours plane flight from my parents’ house, and after Gram died, the relationship became strained. Now, we barely ever hear from any of them. The memories I have with them are very precious to me, and it’s sad when families stop talking, but I will cherish the memories forever.)
My In-Laws: Shelby, Dave, Becky, Dan, Cheryl
I know, the stereotype is “ugh in-laws.” I know I don’t always get along fantastic with them, but I do care about them all quite a lot. Shelby and Dave are my siblings-in-law, Becky is my mother-in-law, Dan is my father-in-law, and Cheryl is Dan’s girlfriend. Even though our personalities don’t always mesh, I do care quite a lot for all of them. I am grateful that Dan has a family that we get to see often, and that we’re close enough with them that they actually want to hang out with us. I believe that as time goes on, my relationship with my in-laws will only improve, and I look forward to that! I hope they know that I would be willing to help them just as much as I’d be willing to help my immediate family. The day I married Dan, I considered them to be part of my family, and I still feel that way. (I do care about the various members of Dan’s extended family that I have met, as well.)
These are the people (and kitties) that I’m thinking about today, on this holiday of love. Who are you celebrating today?