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I’ve been thinking about my Thankful Post for about a week. I knew I wanted to address this on my blog, but it’s something that’s been hard for me to put into words.

I am lucky; I have never lost someone whose absence has affected the core of my being. One of my aunts died when I was in college, and I was devastated — not because we were close (we weren’t, sadly), but because she was my mom’s best friend.

A few months ago, a friend of mine at work lost her boyfriend in a motorcycle accident. I had never met him, but it hit me very hard. He was so young, less than a year older than my fiance. I feel like every time I look at Jeff lately, I think, “One day, one of us is going to permanently leave the other. Is it going to  hurt more if it happens in 50 years than if it happens in five?” I can’t fathom what my friend is going through, and I pretty much want to run up to her and hug her all the time.

You see, I have everything to be thankful for. Everything. Jeff has worked late a lot recently. I love my time alone, and I love that, after work, or basketball, or hanging out with his friends once a month, he comes home, to me. I love my life. I love my house. I love this man who has completed me in a way I didn’t know needed completing.

One of Jeff and my engagement pics

I love the work at do at my job. Sure, the gig isn’t perfect (whose job is?), but on Monday mornings, I do not dread going to work. In fact, I look forward to it.

I love the work I am able to do on Etsy. I love the people I am able to help find That Perfect Gift, and I love that I have this creative outlet that helps me unwind after a crazy day at the newspaper. I love that a pair of vintage rhinestone screw-back earrings can find their way from Pierceton, Ind., a town with no stop lights, to Paris.

I love my friends. I love that as some of them are receiving their Save the Date post cards, they are calling me, and thanking me, and sharing their excitement. They are texting me notes filled with exclamation points. They are emailing and Facebooking, and it all makes my heart swell. And it makes me happy that I lost, that I’m getting this Big Fat Wedding I never wanted.

The bestie, and maid of honor, sent me a text with the pic of her Save the Date

I love my family. I love that, after every bit of my mother’s patience has been shat on by my darling autistic brother, she somehow finds some unknown reserve.

I love that my brother has been driving her and my dad crazy in recent months because he’s so excited for the holidays. That he goes into the basement about once a week and brings up the trees, decorations and gift wrap. That he’s sick of waiting for Christmastime and is ready for it to BE Christmastime. This is a boy (hell, a man — Joey’s 23) who hides my mom’s new P!nk CD because he doesn’t want to listen to P!nk; he wants Mom to play Christmas music.

Christmas two years ago. Despite the face, trust me — Joey adores this time of year. He’s just not terribly photogenic.

I love that tomorrow, I will get to experience my favorite 20 minutes of the year: When I visit my folks’, my mom and I wake up around the same time. And for maybe 20 minutes in the morning, everyone else is asleep. We turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and don’t watch it, but let its noise give the kitchen a soft ambiance. We drink coffee, and go through the ads in the newspapers, and just be. It’s nothing outwardly special, and I suspect Mom would be surprised to learn of how much I love these brief minutes each year. But it’s just the feeling that I love, a feeling of the holiday, of love, of security.

I often don’t feel worthy to have so much to be thankful for. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve these gifts, but I appreciate them, every day.