The Strangest Things I'm Thankful For

The Strangest Things I'm Thankful For

A Thanksgiving Reflection on Everyday Blessings

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Last holiday season, I began to keep a thanksgiving journal, to count my blessings and remind me to be grateful for what I have. As Thanksgiving approaches this year, I decided to look back on these past months and find the smallest, strangest things I've been grateful for.

Of course I'm grateful for my family, my friends, and my community. There have been a lot of big opportunities over this past year that I'm super excited and grateful for, too! But in the middle of all that, I wanted to revisit the random moments that would hit midday with a reminder of how blessed I am, and how I should be thankful for the little things as well.

1. Music

This one isn't so strange – but I don't think of it incredibly often. I assume it'll always be there, like it always has been in the past. Yet if I imagine a day or week without it, I realize I should be grateful pretty quickly!

2. Letters

I used to have pen-pals, but soon enough life gets so hectic that sending frequent letters isn't so feasible anymore. Emails and texts soon replace mail. But let's all admit – when you get a surprise letter in the mail, it really makes your day. There's something about the time that someone spent to send it to you…

3. Pictures

Not necessarily any specific ones, just the idea of pictures in general. So many wonderful moments they capture, that we might not recall if we couldn't keep them before our eyes.

4. Hot Water

There's nothing like needing a hot bath at the end of a long, stressful day. And a cup of tea, too, for that matter. I realized on a dreary, cold day that I took for granted that I could have these things when I arrived back home.

5. Raincoat

If I were asked my favorite articles of clothing, this wouldn't usually strike me as making that list. But when it's raining – I sure am glad to have it on me!

6. Gasoline

I remember to be thankful for vehicles a lot more than this one. But when I realize that if my car is running low on gas, I just stop by and fill it up, I also realize how easy that is. Expensive sometimes? Yes. But also available, and I'm thankful for that.

7. Flowers

Can you imagine if they disappeared? What spring would look like? I naturally assume they'll come around every year, but some places in the world don't even have flowers growing around naturally.

8. Long Car Rides

I know, now this is one people often dread. But the thing is, in the middle of a busy world, they force you to relax. You simply can't be doing a million things at once when you're on the road, so I try to be appreciative of that time.

Of course, there are a lot of other things as well, simply too long to list! But looking back, these struck me as some of the smallest, yet most important things I remembered to appreciate over the past year.

This Thanksgiving, try a little challenge – think of your own list of everyday things you often take for granted, but should pause and be grateful for as we celebrate this holiday! You might be surprised at what you find!

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22 Signs You're a Region Rat

Close enough to Chicago to claim it yet still maintain our own identity
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You can take someone out of the Region, but you can't take the Region out of someone. In a mysterious way, it always seems to bring you back. You have to admit to having pride a little bit of pride relating to at least one of these instances.

1. Being called a "rat" is a compliment, not an insult.

2. You're not even phased when a camel's walking down the middle of the street.


(The language may be a bit much, but what else would you expect from the Region?)

3. You never called Southlake "Westfield" when it changed ownerships. TG it's Southlake, again.

4. There's no better greeting than the sweet smell of the BP oil refineries in Whiting or the steel mills in Gary.

5. You call the expressways by their number, not their name.


"Which is better to avoid Chicago traffic, 80/94 or 90?"

6. Also, yes it is "expressway." It's not "freeway" or "highway." Don't bother arguing.

7. You see more Illinois license plates at gas stations, liquor stores, and cigarette places in the Region than actually in Illinois.

8. It's a sin if you haven't been to Pierogi Fest in a while. It's a greater sin if you've never been to Pierogi Fest.


How can you live with yourself turning down the opportunity to hang out with Mr. Pierogi, Miss Paczki, and the Babushka Brigade?!

9. Pretty much anywhere south of Highland (aka Munster, Schererville, St. John, Dyer, etc.) is considered very fancy.

10. Whenever introducing yourself to new people, you say you're from Chicago just so you can avoid "wait, where is *insert Region city/town* again?"

11. People telling you that you have a Chicago accent and Chicagoans vehemently disagreeing with them.

12. Getting a grimacing look from people when you say your hometown isn't that far from Gary.

13. Lake Central should be its own town with how many kids go there. Seriously.

14. You know how Lincoln's and Miner Dunn are underrated gold mines when it comes to good food.

15. You ride or die with Chicago sports — Bulls, Hawks, Cubs, Sox. If not, you may be ostracized (you probably will).


Even staying loyal to Da Bears because 1985 will always be da best. (There's still a sliver of hope).

16. St. Thomas More and/or SJE always dominated the CYO Christmas tournament during basketball season. Actually, they pretty much dominated in any sport.

17. No other area has anything on our alcohol tolerance. Not a thing.

18. Getting our sources of information from NWI Gazette instead of NWI Times.

19. Following @RegionRatRants never fails to make you laugh, then cry with its accuracy.


One minute it's hilarious for how true it is, the next it's shame for how true it is.

20. By the time the Cline exit off of Calumet gets fixed, hell would have frozen over and it'll be the 12th of never.

21. Your heart breaks a little bit every time Munster Donut is closed because someone drove into it. Again.


This is why we can't have nice things.

22. No matter how much you look forward to leaving, it'll always be home to you as "Chicago's little sibling."

Cover Image Credit: AA Roads

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What Are Snow Days Anyways?

Especially in Maine, they don't exist.

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I have grown up in New England my entire life, and anyone who knows New England weather knows that one day it will be 50 and sunny and the next we will have 3 feet of snow. There is not a happy medium, in between. But snow days have drastically changed over the years especially as I moved from Connecticut to Maine for school.

As a kiddo, I loved snow days, playing in the snow and then having a big ole cup of hot chocolate all cuddled up under the fuzziest of blankets. They were amazing. No worries, no school just a fun day at home.

But then, I got older.

And moved, to one of the snowiest places in the country.

The snow days became scarcer and scarcer. And we get a lot of snow up here in Maine. But there is no point in canceling school for 5 inches of snow when "everyone" knows how to deal with it up here. So classes are rarely canceled.

Sometimes, I really really miss the snow. And coming for me that's saying something because I really am not a fan of the snow, in any way shape or form. It may not be the snow itself that I miss but the break. Having a day off to regroup and reorganize and catch up or whatever is needed.

That's what I miss.

"Mental Health Days" are super super important. They help you keep your sanity. They keep you from feeling overwhelmed and stressed. They prevent injuries and illness whether it be from a virus or just emotional stress and draining. Mental health days are good for so many more reasons too.

And plus sometimes, YOU JUST NEED A DAMN DAY!

But as I get further into my college career, while I missed the snow days and the mental health days more than ever, I also really didn't want to have a snow day. Weird right? At first, I was just thinking that I was going crazy. Because who wouldn't want a day off, especially a full-time student who is also working full time.

Me!

This is why I knew that if we had a snow day I would still have work to do. My professors would most likely just make me responsible for the material missed and let's be honest who actually sits down and thoroughly covers the material missed. And I can't ask questions from the comfort of my bed.

But in reality this last snow storm, I didn't want the snow day for completely selfish reasons. If we had a snow day on Wednesday, my exam would be moved to Friday. And then I would have two back to back exams in my hardest classes on a Friday morning. Yes, it would give me more time to study but like then I will over study for one and not study enough for the other.

So I'm being selfish!

And my friends think I am totally insane and ruining their chances of a day off. BUT I DON'T CARE.

It is okay to be a little selfish every now and again. Take the time for YOU! Do what is best for you and think whatever makes you happy. Stop worrying about everyone else, for every second of every day and

TAKE CARE OF YOU!

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