Last night I started our 2016 photo book. While sorting through all the images from the past year, I realized through a series of technical mistakes, that I'd lost the original files of our first married Christmas, our trip to the Pacific Northwest and others from this summer. If you've ever lost anything because of technology, you know the feeling of your heart dropping through the floor and your stomach being sucker punched. It took me a half hour of panic to realize I had backups. Sadly the original files are gone, so I can't enlarge them or use them in their full resolution. But I am super duper, ginormously, grateful that the lost pictures are some of the few I randomly backed up. What could have been heart-breaking, ended up being only sickening. I am so thankful that our 2016 album won't be missing those special memories.

As I sat there deciding which pictures would make it into our book for this year, I couldn't help marvel at everything that we've experienced. Life looks so different than it did entering the holidays last year. I couldn't help but be filled with gratitude. 

The first thing that pops into my mind when I think of 2016 is Dave's business. It's been the hardest part of this past year, but as cliche as it sounds, good things worth doing aren't usually easy and we're better people for powering through. I'm thankful for the business.

I'm also grateful for our kitties and people. Distance, time and life stuff have caused many relationships I thought were permanent to fade away, meaning the friends and family that remain are even more valuable. I've spent quite a bit of time recently contemplating friendship and what a good one looks like. I don't have an answer yet, but I don't need one. I'm thankful for those who love me.

This year I am especially grateful for the freedom and safety I too often take for granted. As my eyes have been opened to injustice and inequality around the globe, I feel obscenely fortunate and completely unworthy of the privileges and lifestyle I have grown up with. There's a song from my favorite singer-songwriter, Ben Rector, in which he compares himself to the men who drive him places and how the only difference between them is the circumstances they've been born into. If you have a moment, it's something worth a listen and captures some of my thoughts and feelings about the subject. I'm thankful for the advantages I have and don't deserve. 

Oh isn’t that just the way it goes
You’re dealt a good hand and you get celebrated
Oh how am I the only one who knows
I’m half the man of the men that drive me places
— Ben Rector

Life can kick my butt. Sometimes it's really hard and messy and sad. But when I take just a moment to stop and reflect, I know that I could sit here writing until Monday morning about all the things I have to be grateful and joyful about.

Life's been good to me. I'm thankful for that.