During this week of giving thanks, today I am grateful for those things we tend to take for granted – homes, clothes, transportation, jobs – when those are huge dreams for other people. Two years ago, that was almost us. We’d just come to the point where we actually felt comfortable with our financial situation. Finally, we weren’t struggling to make ends meet each month and scared to death if something happened, like needing a new water heater or transmission. We were in the position to handle such emergencies, and even had money to go places and buy what had once been luxuries. We were reaping the rewards of 20 years of sacrifices and hard work. And then just after Thanksgiving 2010, The Man lost his job and there were none to be had. The survival of five people relied on me for the past two years. We could have lost everything and we did lose a lot, but God has blessed us. I will be eternally grateful for that.

I am thankful for the roof over my head, as well as those over my kids while they’re at college. I may complain about the outdated kitchen, all the things that need to be fixed and the remodeling project that’s dragging on forever (as well as the college housing costs), but at least I have a comfortable home for my family and me.

I am thankful for our vehicles that get us from Point A to Point B safely and reliably. Although I complain about gas prices or having to fix the A/C or automatic windows, I am grateful that we even have transportation.

I may complain about all the laundry, the cleaning, the water and electric bills, but at least we have clothes to wash, a washer and dryer, indoor plumbing and clean water. We have A/C and heat. We have towels and sheets and blankets. We have furniture so we don’t have to sit and sleep on a bare floor. We have entertainment fed directly into our home. We have the internet and computers and gadgets for communication, play and work. Our complaints are all first-world problems that I am grateful for.

To be able to pay for all of these, I am grateful for the ability to work, to earn an income, to provide for my family, even when that often means putting in 80 hours a week. I am thankful for being able to do something I love and still be able to pay the bills and even have a little extra for fun. This year has been an insane year when it comes to work and careers. For the past four years, I’ve worked harder than I ever have, especially this year, and it really began paying off in the last few months. I am so grateful that I had the physical and mental ability to work so hard, and thankful for the rewards.

I am also grateful that after two years of being unemployed, The Man has finally found a new job, and he doesn’t even have to be on the road for months at a time. It will take time for him to build up to earning a livable wage, but at least he is working again.

I try not to complain as much as I used to, because I know my problems are silly compared to many people’s. This is also why I’ve been trying to give back by supporting The Hotline and domestic violence survivors, as well as First Book and Blessings in a Backpack for less fortunate children, and breast cancer research and support.

We all take things for granted on a day-to-day basis. Let’s all take a moment to say “thank you.”