Open Heart, Open Mind

The weather in Los Angeles is finally beginning to cool down. Halloween is over, and with the culmination of October comes November and the holiday season. A bunch of holiday traditions come into mind for people of all different faiths, but everyone has one thing in common: There’s nothing quite like seeing snow fall for the first time this year or sipping a hot Starbucks drink while strolling outside on a cool November night.

fall leavesThanksgiving is one of the first major holidays that comes into my mind when I think about the holiday season. It’s basically a day where everyone is allowed and even encouraged to eat as much as possible; hence, the colloquial phrase, “Thanksgiving food coma.” Families gather together after long airplane rides from all over the world, and everyone comes together during the holiday season to celebrate another year passed. Pumpkin pie, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes… all the delicious foods that anyone can ever think of get consumed on Thanksgiving. But, it’s important to remember that eating to your heart’s content does not compare to the true essence of the holiday season: being thankful.

We often take a lot of things for granted in our lives. I, for one, am guilty of this on more than one occasion. This past year has taught me a lot, though, about appreciation and awareness. For instance, you should be thankful for the people you go to school with every single day. Your classmates have basically grown up with you for the past however many years of your life — witnessing you at your absolute worst, but also seeing you at your best. They’ve made you laugh, cry, scream, giggle, but, more than anything, they’ve shaped you as a person in so many ways. Your peers are the people whom you may get sick of the most, but everyone definitely needs to be thankful for their colleagues and peers.

Relationships. Friendships. Family. Health. Having a bed to sleep in and a roof over your head when it is pouring rain outside. Having a car. Being able to access healthcare. Waking up every morning to see your loved ones. Life. The holiday season brings everyone together in order to reflect on these things. Granted, there are millions of more things, unique to every individual, that we can be thankful for.

Teenagers, give your parents a hug every once in a while. They may cause you headaches, make you scream in frustration, and, yes, they may not “get you” all the time, but they’ve loved you unconditionally since the moment they held you in their arms. Tell your friends how much you appreciate them. The people we see every day are the ones that truly witness our growth. Be thankful for that.

Fall will soon be over, and then winter will come. The shorts will be put away, and out will come the boots, scarves, and cozy sweaters. The air in your favorite bakery may very well soon start to smell like gingerbread or peppermint. There are so many beautiful, little things that each and every one of us have to be grateful for. All it takes is an open mind and an open heart.

Julia Chen is a teenage girl living in the City of Angels in Southern California. She loves to sleep, eat macaroons, and play volleyball in her spare time. She's obsessed with Malibu, sushi, and one day hopes to win an Oscar for screenwriting. Until her dreams come true, find her happily searching for all the best sushi restaurants in Los Angeles.

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