This is my favorite time of year. The seasons in Maine have changed the landscape from a warm, green forest canopy to white, snow-covered ground beneath bare winter branches. The hat and mitten box emerges from the cellar and snow boots reclaim their prominent spot in the mudroom lineup. Our revolving kit of facial embellishments adorns the first snowman of the year, complete with black top hat and a broad cranberry grin.

Thanksgiving is the one season that my siblings and I all trek north for a long weekend getaway to my parents’ home in the western mountains of Maine. Dad’s bull moose adorns the fieldstone fireplace, warm flames lapping below fill the living room with warmth and laughter. Seven grandchildren spanning ages eight to one bring laughter, crying, silly remarks, cousin shenanigans and memories. Lots and lots of memories.

This year, the Christmas tree is already up, filled with ornaments made of black and white family  photos, mounted on brown paper trimmed with a wavy edge and hung from the pine branches with simple red ribbons. Surrounding the trunk is a gift for each of us to open the morning after Thanksgiving. Starting with the youngest grandchild and working our way up to the oldest child, the kids received new toys and the adults will all fresh new socks in the week and months ahead. While the paper was flying the patience for each one’s turn was commendable, at all ages!

My husband, Adam, has been an avid angler and hunter his entire adult life. When he was a child and then a teenager his grandfather taught him all about the splendors of outdoor life and gamesmanship in the great state of Maine. So, of course, he totes along his hunting gear each year for our holiday trip to mom and dad’s house. Alas, another season has now passed without a deer to stock our freezer. Maybe next year.

Over the past year, my parents have done a number of renovations and sprucing up around their home, including renovations in the kitchen. The butcher block countertop that sat in the kitchen for nearly thirty years was replaced with a beautiful slab of Italian granite. My mother, forever the thrifty saver and reclaimer, repurposed the solid wooden counters by chunking them up into desks that nestle beautifully into the dormer windows in the three upstairs bedrooms. Now, overlooking Mt. Abram, Sugarloaf, and the Bigelow range, there is a new writers nook that was simply too inviting to ignore.

I have so much to be thankful for. My family is healthy and happy, we have a warm and comfortable home with everything we need. We have time to spend with our family and we take our children on adventures and local outings. Throughout the growing season, we make weekly visits to purchase food from one of our local farms and we eat together as a family for every breakfast and every dinner. We talk about our days and we encourage good choices. We make plans for the kids’ sixth and fourth birthdays and we take time for ourselves to have adult time for love and adventure of our own.

We are truly blessed. We work hard and we provide strong role models for our children. Life isn’t always easy, but for every challenge, we overcome the rewards far outweigh any burden. When we fall, we brush ourselves off, give each other the support family deserves and we keep moving forward. Because isn’t that what we’re most Thankful for? We have the ability and the opportunity to move forward.

We have this one life to live. I am thankful for a life that is full, a life that is rich with love and happiness, a life that becomes better with every passing year. I am thankful.

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