I can’t help it. With each year that passes, I get a little dark and grumpy in the days leading up to the anniversary of my birth. It’s all the obvious stuff. I look in the mirror and search for remnants of my lost youth. I wrestle with thoughts of wasted time and missed opportunities. I think back on the birthday wish I’d made the year before, which is the same wish I’d made the year before…and the year before that. I have to accept that either all my birthday candles have been defective or it’s time to come up with a new birthday wish. Of course, I can’t say what my wish has been or it will never come true. And there’s always that chance that all the blowing and wishing from my past will finally pay off.

birthday-wish-candlesIt is pretty awesome, though, to have a 7-year-old daughter bouncing off the walls with excitement over celebrating her mom’s birthday. For the past couple of months, Emma Kelly’s been doing chores for me and my parents so she could buy me birthday presents with her own money. Her “chores” involved helping me find my lost cell phone (that earned her a dollar) and going to bed without arguing any more on one particularly stressful night (another dollar). EK earned a good chunk of change over the course of a few weeks and was so excited when she finally got to go out with her grandmama and spend every dime of it on me. She got me three skinny belts, a silver necklace that says we’re soul mates and a king-sized Payday candy bar! She was so proud. And EK helped my mama make a red velvet birthday cake for me and then sang and danced the “Happy Birthday” song to me not once, but twice. How could I not be thankful to have a daughter who loves me so much!

In fact, I have A LOT to be thankful for. And when I spend more time being thankful for what I have, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to mourn what I don’t. Like my 20s…my waistline…and a big, hairy man to curl up next to at night. Well, maybe not so hairy. But definitely bigger than me. A girl wants to feel dainty.

So I’m going to try an experiment. I’m going to spend this next year being thankful. And what’s the best way to show thanks while demonstrating proper etiquette? By writing “thank you” notes! Duh. So I’m going to stock up on stationery and Forever stamps and spend the next 365 days writing thank you notes. And I won’t be writing them just for gifts. I’ll be writing them to people who have meant something in my life. I’m kind of excited thinking about it, but I’m a little bit anxious about it, too. Once I commit, I have to follow through, but I know that on some days, I’ll be feeling about as far from thankful as you can get. But when I’m dark and down and I feel like the world has it in for me, I’ll just put pen to paper and express my thanks to someone. And if I can stick to this — if I can reach down and find a place of thankfulness each and every day despite my mood or circumstances — I’m hoping to finally experience one of those Oprah “aha” moments she keeps blabbing about. I REALLY want my own “aha” moment.

I’ll let you know how it goes.