When I was younger, I couldn't wait for the holidays--it was my favorite time of the year! I came from a big Mexican family which meant big parties with lots of food, fun and laughter. Family would come in from out of town, there was a plethora of pies and desserts to choose from, and I loved helping my mom and grandma put up their never ending supply of Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. My grandmother was just as meticulous about things as I was, so I appreciated her need for perfection in my assembly of the Nativity scene, followed by her extreme sense of gratitude for my help.
As I've gotten older, I've found that the holidays don't mean what they use to mean when I was younger. People have to work, they move away, they get sick, there's school work to be done and bills to be paid. Basically, life happens and suddenly you find that the magic is gone. Although this year has been a bit bumpy and hectic it has also been full of many wonderful things; and for that, I am thankful. So as a "HELLO December!" and "So long November!" I made a list of the top 5 things I am thankful for:
1. My better half: Clark. After only having dated for a month he decided that he would moving to Hawaii with me. A move that I would not have made and instead would have said "sayonara!" I am eternally thankful and grateful for his never-ending patience with me, his constant support and the overwhelming amount of love he showers me with daily.
2. My school and (more importantly) my students. The school I teach at is located on the beautiful North Shore of Oahu with a student body population of 800 students. 800. Can you believe that? There is such a strong sense of community at my school, my students are generally well-behaved, and not a day goes by where at least one of my students display a random act of kindness ranging from grading my papers to sharing their sweet treats with me. It's absolutely wonderful!
3. My family. Sometimes, they get on my damn nerves (including my bestie and my out of this world God daughter), but they are what keeps me going. Just when I feel like giving up I'm reminded that someone is looking up to me and counting on me to do something big in life. Their never-ending love and support is what's gotten me through some of my roughest patches. If you don't have family, you have nothing.
4. My City Year Team (Team SASS). The year that I learned exactly how much I love people. Never have I met such a motivated, dedicated group of people than I did when I joined City Year. Imagine not getting paid and working 10+ hours a day, all for a cause greater than yourself. Yes, we chose to do this, but it takes a special kind of person to dedicate a year of their lives to bettering a community that's not even their own. This is my second family. I continue to be inspired by the vast amount of dedication these people have to making the world a better place.
5. My upbringing. I can recall countless times where I sat in the car, on the couch, at a restaurant praying and hoping that my dad would stop with his infamous "teaching moments." Before my sister and I went to college, he spent 3 hours talking to us about various topics--I wanted to die. But with that, my mom taught me patience, perspective and a foundation for acceptance and understanding. Where was my dad coming from? Why would he spend so much time talking our ears off? It was all out of love.
With that, I will continue to strive through the rest of this semester. Always focusing on the good and being grateful for the wonderful life I have been blessed with.