Unfortunately, due to work constraints, I won’t be going home to my family this holiday season. At first I was feeling a bit ripped off. I mean, I don’t have a family of my own that I live with now, so shouldn’t the Lord just allow me to be with the one that I do have?
This pattern of thought doesn’t really take you to good places in your mind. Just as the downward spiral started, a thought came to my mind, a phrase from a hymn at church: “Count your many blessings see what God has done.”
And so it began. I counted. What does a single person at the holidays have to be thankful for? There are the obvious answers like the fact that you have a family who loves you, the gospel on the earth, scriptures, a roof over your head, a job (or in my case, two), a car, no debt, independence, some smatter of a dating life, etc. However, as I continued to ponder, it was the more specific and perhaps subtle details that truly filled my heart with gratitude at this time of year.
Here are some of them, in no particular order:
2) Customer Service: Helping others shop for their families reminds me how blessed I am with my own.
3) Coworkers: Getting together with others who have the same predicament.
4) A day off: A true day off where I can wear sweats and read a book all day!
5) Online Shopping: I can get gifts delivered to my family’s door.
6) Netflix: Christmas Movie marathon, anyone?!
7) Social Media: I can see picture of my family being together.
8) Homesickness: (Yes, this is a blessing!) It is a blessing to know that even at 27, I still love my family enough to miss them.
9) Knowing that I’m not really alone on the holidays or any time of the year thanks to my Savior Jesus Christ.
10) Time that allows me to count my blessings and see all the Lord has done and is doing!
Those a just a few that came to my mind. Neal A. Maxwell once said:
“Yes, you and I should count our blessings, but we should also make them count!” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ,” October 1997)
So rather than simply make a list of those blessings, I thought perhaps I should make a list of ways to use those blessings. It became my goal to turn these blessings to an outward focus and see if there might be a way to make my blessings someone else’s blessings too. Here’s what I came up with:
1) The meals: Take time to send individual thank you notes to all those who sent invitations, including telling them why I am thankful to have them in my life.
2) Give the best customer service possible to help brighten other people’s holiday season and lessen the stress of them spending all their money.
3) Covering as many shifts as possible at work so those who have family close can spend time with them.
4) For every hour of casual reading, spend 15 minutes reading conference talks, scriptures, etc. and send quotes to my family and friends.
5) Finding someone’s need that I can meet, and adding it to my shopping list.
6) Grabbing someone else who is watching Netflix and watching it together rather than alone.
7) Posting positive, thankful content on social media.
8) Telling my family I love them and miss them, and plan a trip for a time when I can go home.
9) Saying a prayer of gratitude for the Savior’s Atonement and sharing the knowledge of His gift with someone else.
10) Writing down one reason I am thankful every day, not just on Thanksgiving.
Suddenly I not only feel blessed, but I feel motivated to do good. My holidays no longer seem dull and lonely, but full and busy. I’m not sure this will help anyone besides myself, but I invite you, no matter what your circumstances may be this season, to find at least one way to make your blessings count, and then to report back! I’d love to hear your stories.
This article was originally published in November 2014. Minor changes have been made.
Ashley Dewey is extremely talented at being single. Hobbies include awkward conversations with members of the opposite sex, repelling third dates, talking to boys about their girl problems and to girls about their boy problems. In her spare time she also has a very fulfilling school life, work life, and social life. Besides being a professional single, Ashley is also a BYU graduate with a degree in linguistics (Aka word nerd). She enjoys studying other languages, particularly American Sign Language, and finds most all of them fascinating. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Ashley works most of the time and has often been accused of being a workaholic. Currently she works full time as a merchandiser and supervisor in a retail store, and part time doing social media work. On her day off she works (really it doesn't feel like work) in the Provo LDS temple. The only kind of work she finds difficulty focusing on is house work. Her favorite activities in her free time are reading, writing, creating social experiments, and spending time with great friends and family. Specific activities with those family and friends include: going to concerts, plays, dance recitals, BYU basketball and football games, and watching sports on television.