While tomorrow marks a traditional day of giving thanks, it also ushers in the official Christmas season for the Neal family. I don’t know about you, but the whole holiday season feels like ‘thanksgiving’ to me. Everywhere I turn, I’m reminded how grateful I am for something – for the lights strung everywhere, for the Christmas songs on the radio, for the smell of pine and the secretive hiding of presents you just know the recipient will love. This year more than most, I have so much to be thankful for. It’s been a year of dark clouds and bright silver linings, of black mistakes and overwhelming forgiveness. There are things I’m thankful for every year – family, friends, life, health, but this year I’d like to detail a few things in particular, new to this year, that I’m so grateful to have.

This year, I’m thankful for

  • The gracious forgiveness of family and friends when I mess up in ways I never thought myself capable of. These past few months have been a veritable flood of grace and love, and have revived my faith in people.
  • Arielle, my old-same and soul-sister. We knew each other for years, but we didn’t find that special bond until earlier this summer. Our souls met and said ‘oh, there you are. I’ve been waiting for you,’ and she’s one of the best women I know.
  • Lauren, the other half of my brotp. We bonded in pieces – first over Once Upon a Time, then over JuNoWriMo, and then over…well, everything. Here’s to a year filled with messy, tear-filled ranting and laughing until our ribs hurt.
  • My college daughters; Laura, Dabby, Liz, and Christine. They are bright lights and strong, growing, beautiful young women I’m proud and privileged to know. (Also, they’re crazy and I adore them.)
  • My publishing contract with Paper Crowns, a gift from God I hoped for but didn’t expect to receive so awesomely.
  • John Howe, the Merlin of art, and his willingness to guide me and answer my unending stream of questions. I never would have thought that I would personally know the man who inspired so much of what’s important to me.
  • The forward leaps my writing and art have both taken this year.
  • Last but not least, the painful (super painful) personal, spiritual growth I’ve done this year. It’s been a year where I’ve been broken into pieces, and putting those pieces back together has hurt. Re-setting fractured bones, learning to walk again. But those cracks are slowly, surely being mended with gold, and I’m becoming kintsukuroi.

What are you thankful for in this moment?


  1. <3

    I'm thankful for you; your strength, honesty, openness, and passion. You're amazing + I'm so thankful God placed you in my life.

    The Christmas season also starts kind of today and kind of tomorrow. I hate the holidays and I'm pretty sure I'm a cynical, bitter old maid yelling at kids to get off the lawn trapped in a young body. But I'm thankful. And I wish people realized that every day ought to be a day of thanksgiving. To limit it to once a year is ridiculous and yet this is what people do. Giving, laughter, and being happy for no reason shouldn't be limited to the 12 days of Christmas.

    You don't do this. I love you for that.


  2. Beautiful post! This holiday season is my favorite for the exact reasons you listed. :) Man, there’s just something so magical about it all. It’s almost like you can feel it in the air with the cold and the smell of pinecones and cinnamon.

    BTW, I’m gonna steal this idea for a blog post. Hope that’s okay! :3


talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s