Stay thankful throughout the year

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas and New Year’s Day will be here shortly. A lot can happen in such a short window of time, and it’s easy to get caught up in all of the stress of the season and forget what it’s really about.

Because of how hectic life can get, it’s important that we remember what we emphasized at the start of the season last Thursday: gratitude.

As Shelby County residents, it’s easy for us to count our blessings. According to several rankings on Niche.com, we’ve ranked highly as a place to live, raise a family, buy a house and receive a public education.

According to data gathered by Alabama Possible in 2016, Alabama is the fourth poorest state in the U.S., with almost 20 percent of Alabamians living under the poverty line. Compared to a lot of people, many Shelby County residents are very lucky.

In the midst of all of the shopping, planning, cooking and dealing with family that goes on, it’s easy to forget how lucky we are, but there’s always an opportunity to be thankful. Staying thankful throughout the season typically makes the season go a lot more smoothly.

If Christmas shopping gets overwhelming this year, it’s okay. Take a deep breath and try to remember that many may not be able to afford to buy gifts for their loved ones this year.

Do your relatives with different political beliefs get on your nerves at family gatherings? Most people have that problem, but it’s good to remember how good it is to have a family, especially one that gathers at least once a year.

If someone wishes you “Happy Holidays,” it’s not an attack on your personal beliefs. Someone is genuinely wishing you well, and we’re lucky to live in a country that extends religious freedom to people of all belief systems.

Also, while we’re focused on what we have, remember that others may not. There are plenty of nonprofits throughout the county that serve adults, children and animals in need. Many churches also take up donations at this time. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re thinking about it. Like staying thankful, there’s always an opportunity to help.