Sunday, November 22, 2015


Whenever the holiday season rolls around, I often find myself filled with an overload of nostalgia.  I think of all the years gone by....those Christmases when I was little, filled with elaborate "Christmas Plans" designed to catch Santa in action as well as the customary trip to my grandparent's house in West Virginia...a trip that often took days to travel from whatever duty station we were at.  I think of how excited we were and how we didn't sleep at all on Christmas Eve.  My thoughts also venture back to those holidays when my own three children were little and I wonder if they felt that same excitement...if I made Christmas as special for them as my parents did for me?  I can only hope so.  Now there are some grandchildren in the family and the holiday story continues.

I also find myself dwelling on those things that I'm most grateful for.  At the top of that list is my family, of course.  I can't help but realize just how blessed we are:  no major illnesses to deal with, everyone has a job that provides a roof over their heads and food on the table.  While some of us aren't rolling in money, we have all that we need and I think that's more than good enough.  This will be our second holiday season without Mom and she is surely missed.  But we gather together and share the special times, just as we all know she would want us to do.  We truly are a family blessed and for that, I am grateful.

It wouldn't be a post from me if I didn't mention my A.T. hiking in some way, so here it goes.  Since I started section hiking back in 2012, each trip has come to mean more and more to me.  Life gets loud and crazy sometimes and hitting the trail is my refuge from all that noise.  Being out there where the only thing I have to think about is waking up with the sun, trekking through the woods to my next destination, and climbing into that tent as the sun goes down is a welcomed retreat from "reality," if you will.  It is also a time when I challenge myself and find out just what I can do.  I typically doubt my abilities on a day to day basis so each time I complete a section hike, I feel as if I've truly accomplished something.  Not much else that I do gives me that same feeling.  My love of the A.T. has introduced me to some amazing people both online and face-to-face.  I love to talk to fellow hikers about their trips!  I learn a lot from these determined people and hope that every now and then, they learn something from me.  Most of all, my time on the trail is usually spent with my siblings and that makes the time priceless.

Accomplished my goal!  Time to set a new one!

As the years since we started our section hikes have passed, things have started to change.  New interests have developed.  Jobs have become more demanding.  Life has gotten busier.  Time to hike together has gotten harder and harder to come by.  Nothing out of the ordinary really.  That's how life is for most of us.  I've had to accept that not everyone shares my love and excitement for doing these section hikes.  That's okay too.  We're all individuals with different demands and obligations of us that we must meet.  My point is that all of this makes me extremely grateful for the times we've been lucky enough to share. 

I've share this quote often, but I think it bears repeating at this particular place in this post:

                                        "The A.T. changes you and it fixes you...."

It certainly does those things for me and the memories I've made there will stay with me forever.  I consider myself lucky to be able to get out there whenever I can and do the things I do.

So, as this holiday season begins, I think it's the perfect time for each of us take a look around us and take stock of our many blessings...of all the things we are grateful for.  Being grateful is an art and it can definitely take some work because a lot of times, life just seems to be knocking us down but it can be done.  I know because it's something I try to make myself do often.  I make myself take time to notice the little things I have in my life...and sometimes those "little things" add up to be pretty big!  May you all have a happy and blessed holiday season!

 (photo taken atop Blood Mountain, 2011)

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