What’s your favorite part of the holidays? Is it the chance to spend time with loved ones and shower them with presents, food and affection? Is it the religious and spiritual observances many value so deeply? Is it found in the traditions we observe, or simply the opportunity to take a break? 

For my humble part, I appreciate and treasure all of those glad tidings, but there’s a facet of the holiday experience that I find of even greater significance. In a word, my favorite part of holidays is gratitude.

Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Years, these beautiful celebrations present the perfect opportunity to reflect on all the good stuff in our lives. To my mind, gratitude is the currency of happiness and the source of humility and compassion. It shimmers more brilliantly than tinsel and shines more brightly than miles of colored lights.

Naturally, everyone is grateful for different things. But I’d wager that family, friends, health, career, love, laughter, opportunity and good fortune are somewhere in the grateful mix for many, if not most people. Or maybe you’re grateful for something simpler, like each new day we open our eyes.

To be sure, we do live in a material world and there’s nothing wrong with being grateful for the fruits of our hard work. As we stand right now, our industry and overall economy are in a time of abundance and that’s a wonderful thing. But we all should realize that fortunes can and will change —  it’s one of nature’s true inevitabilities. When it does, when our coffers again grow thinner, we’ll still be left with those other blessings, the ones that are of even greater value than the security, comfort and optimism affluence can bring.

Whether in times that are good, bad or so-so, I’ve long personally believed that when we live our lives with an open mind and an open heart and seek to nurture gratitude, we become more of who we are. We will always have the lessons of the past to draw upon and the unrealized potential of the future to strive for, but more than anything, we experience the lives we inhabit today and the people with whom we share this journey.

So, as our planet completes another lap around the sun, and the season comes and goes, let’s raise a glass and lift our hearts to the enduring beauty and quiet power of gratitude — the greatest gift of all.

From all of us at AQUA, we wish you love, happiness, hope and joy this holiday season and beyond.  

Eric Herman is Senior Editor of AQUA Magazine.