Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope that you are all having some downtime with friends and family. I’m spending this week with my fiance’s family in Virginia and North Carolina (no, it’s not snowing here, but this pic is so very Winter Wonderland) and it’s been really relaxing and low-key. With this side of my family, we decided to do something different this year – a giftless Christmas. And while I’ve missed the excitement of wrapping gifts for people I love and anticipating them opening something special I’ve picked out for them, it’s been SO nice to skip the shopping crowds and holiday sale frenzy. Instead we’ve focused on hanging out, playing games, reading, exercising, walking the dogs, seeing plays, cooking. It’s been awesome! 

Without the distractions of gifts and shopping, I’ve had to sit still and think about what I’m grateful for and what traditions I want to carry on, regardless of what side of my family I’m hanging with. This year, mine is making simple little Christmas cookies. When I was a kid, we bought Pillsbury sugar cookie dough, rolled it in balls, dipped it in sprinkles and baked for 15 mins. Nothing fancy, but full of memories! The smell, the taste, the colors, the crunch of the sprinkles – THE BEST!! So I marched my butt to the store and after dinner last night, I made them – here’s a pic of my humble little plate of cookies.

Have you ever tried a gratitude journal? It’s where each day you write out just a couple things you are grateful for – but not silly things like your new pair of shoes. You focus on things that are meaningful in helping you live your day-to-day life and achieving your goals. I’ve tried it off and on since August, and it really does make you more appreciative and focused on what is important. Here are some of the things I’ve written in mine this year. 

I am grateful for:

  •  A set of female role models – both personal and professional, famous and friendly – to look up to who have set an example that I can aspire to in my career and my life.
  • A supportive partner who treats me like an equal and pushes me everyday to be my best.
  • A roof over my head that I truly love.
  • A loving family who are my biggest cheerleaders, no matter what.
  • A diverse set of experiences that have led me on a winding career path – it may not be traditional, but it is my path.

Got a pen? Got a notebook? Get writing and get grateful. Among all our to-do lists, resolutions, planners, and calendars, there’s gotta be some place to start prioritizing this act of expressing gratitude on a daily basis. 

Have you ever tried a gratitude journal? What was your experience?

P.S. Don’t forget you can still give the gift of charity this year as an alternative or add-on to the gifts you give!