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February has been an eventful month with so many things to be grateful for. For starters, it was my birthday month. Say what you may, but I still look forward to my birthdays and my birthday gifts every year. We also had the pleasure of hosting a few friends at our new place this month. I realized only then that I’d never cooked for a group of people (other than my immediate family). And man, it was satisfying! I was eagerly looking forward to writing this month’s gratitude journal, because I have so much to be grateful for!

Birthday, and all that jazz

You’re never old for a birthday cake. I’m lucky to be around people who concur that birthdays need to be celebrated with a cake. So it was only natural that I got to cut not one, but two cakes on my birthday. Isn’t that amazing? :-). My husband organized one cake (and a few birthday presents) and invited our friends over. A few colleagues at work organized the second cake. I felt so happy when people reached out to me and sent their wishes. I’m grateful to be around kind-hearted family and friends.

Keeping up with my birthday tradition, I decided to get myself a gift. I don’t go on shopping sprees all through the year, so I look forward to my birthday and put in considerable thought for my birthday gift. This year, I decided to upgrade my phone. I got an iPhone 8 :-). I’m blown away by the phone and I’m having an amazing time experimenting. I was practically beaming that day when I walked out of the Apple store with my new phone! I’m grateful to be able to indulge during special occasions.

Setting up our new home

The good thing about being a working couple and trying to set up a home is, you get to do it at your own pace. You don’t have a choice but it’s nice to take time to read a hundred reviews before deciding what to buy. It’s been 2 months since we moved in and I can say we’re almost there. Every time we stepped out of Target, we would tell ourselves it would be the last time we were shopping there. And we end up there the very next week with an even bigger list. Shopping for your home can never end; it goes on and on.

We ordered our furniture from IKEA, so you can imagine our sense of accomplishment when we assembled all the furniture (Where is my medal, IKEA?). It was a team work by the husband and me and it was a great learning experience (Not that I’d want to do it again anytime soon). Setting up a home away from home, I can’t stop feeling grateful for how lucky we’ve been. We’ve settled in and now have our own place, which we look forward to every evening, while filling it up with happiness and memories, one day at a time!

Friends like Family

I experienced how friends stand in for family only after moving here. Our friends helped us settle while we handled the initial weeks. It was challenging to adapt to a new time zone and to fight the jet lag while trying to settle important matters. We did manage to, thanks to their support. So once we set up our home, we invited them for a couple of lunches and dinners. Now, I’ve never cooked for people apart from my immediate family. In Chennai, if we wanted to meetup with friends we would immediately look up a new restaurant to try. Or we would order food from our favorite place. We would concentrate on spending quality time rather than worrying about food.

Since most of our friends here wanted to taste home-made food, we decided to cook for them. It was gratifying to see people enjoy their meal (and I’m not even as great as a cook as my Mom!). It was touching to listen to their compliments and how it stirred memories of their home. I wondered why I hadn’t done it before. And then it dawned on me why my Mom would always make it a point to cook, even for 30 people. She would be content seeing others enjoy her food. I can now relate to it. That happiness is unparalleled. I’m so grateful for our friends. It makes me happy to see them happy.

Towards the end of February, I felt lost for a moment. I thought I didn’t have much to write in my gratitude journal this month. But when I sat down to write, my list grew bigger. It’s funny how the small wins (which are easily missed) add up exponentially and leave you feeling satisfied. We are so focused on the big wins, that we end up missing the small wins. I knew it was all in there. I had to spend time to dig in and recount the wonderful moments of this month. Thanks to this new habit of writing a gratitude journal, I could relive the memories of the entire month – something I could have easily missed. After all, it’s the small things in life that matter the most. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday month!