Don’t Forget A Second Helping Of Gratefulness, Cranberry Sauce, & Thankfulness

Hello and happy Monday, folks!

Before I begin, I must take a moment to send prayers, love, and support to all those involved and affected by the Colorado nightclub shooting. Another senseless act of violence against the LGBTQ+ community is frustrating, not ok, and disgusting. We need love. We need change.

Well, here we are getting ready to celebrate the holiday where we will sit back, relax with family, fill ourselves with food, watch some football, trim the Christmas tree, and attempt to remind ourselves on what we are thankful for.

However, it always seems that the ” what we are thankful for” part always comes last on the list and ends up being least important.

The Black Friday sales and deals seem to overpower the true meaning of the holiday.

That means…you guessed it…this week’s post is going to be all about thankfulness.

Taking stock in what we have and stepping back to be grateful and really, truly reflect on what it is in our lives that we are thankful for.

This week’s post is not about the cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes.

It is not about the Black Friday deals.

It is not about trimming the Christmas tree.

It is about being THANKFUL.

As defines it, the word thankful is described as “feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.”

Well, let’s get down to business with all the thanking that we must do.

I’m thankful and grateful for my parents. I’m thankful for them having the courage to sit down and talk with me about my sexuality even though it was an uncomfortable territory at first. I’m thankful for your patience, understanding, and compassion that you have shown me every step of the way and continue to do each day. Without your guidance, I would not be the man I am today. I would be lost in this world of negativity, hate, and pain if it wasn’t for the constant love that you have used from your souls to raise me on the principles of love and kindness for everyone regardless of religion, social status, ethnicity, politics affiliation, or sexuality. I know that we have had some “crucial conversations” this year about multiple topics that were tricky to navigate, but I appreciate you sharing your perspective, listening to me, and allowing for a better relationship in the end because of all that was shared. I hope I continue to make you proud as I grow through the years ahead on the paths that await.

I’m thankful and grateful for my brother. While you might not have been the most loving sibling to me during our time growing up, I truly wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Even though we may still have fighting battles of words and wit every now and then, you are someone that I look up to and truly admire. You are extremely hard working and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching you mature into a loving husband to Mindy. It also warms my heart seeing you be a wonderful father to both Mackenzie and Ellie. You may have the brain of smarts, but I have the brain of good fashion sense. Ha!

I’m thankful and grateful for my sister-in-law, Mindy. Mindy–you have brought even more grace, love, and support to our family and we could never thank you enough for that. I have been able to witness you as a hardworking mom who wants to give her family all the best no matter what the cost and that melts my heart. I know you’ve been through some very tough times that have rocked your emotions over the years and seeing how you have come out of those trials even stronger is such beautiful a thing. And every time I get to see you interact with your girls, Mackenzie and Ellie, it brings a big smile to my face. I love seeing the energy that both you and Will put into your family and the business.

I’m thankful and grateful for my two nieces, Mackenzie and Ellie. They both continue to bring a whole new level of smiles and innocence to my life that I adore like no other. I have found my inner child getting to build Legos with Mackenzie on the weekly, coloring, reading books, singing, playing hide and sneak or whatever other games that come up! And getting to hold Ellie and hear her cute, baby sniffles and breathing make the inner soul soar with love. I can’t wait to continue watching them grow up even though I wish time would slow down! I’m very much looking forward to snapping more Uncle JP selfies with both of them in this next year!

I’m thankful and grateful for my coworkers (at both the full time and part time locations) whom I get the pleasure of being around on the daily. While I continue to navigate the virtual work world (which I have struggled with this year and still have my moments), I’m thankful that each and every one of you is always happy to lend a listening ear or offer a piece of advice on anything that I’m struggling with. All of you bring so much to the table and have helped me grow emotionally and professionally, especially in this past year where I seemed to be so negative about everything and my attitude was just poor. I only hope that we continue to push each other in our future growth paths together in making the lives of those we help day in and day out a bit better. While my part-time job at Loomis will come to an end on 12/30, I’m grateful for the last 4 years that I was able to tackle as an auditor with some really wonderful individuals. Loomis will always have a special place in my heart. And cheers to 2023 and the opportunities that await in searching for a new part-time gig!

I’m thankful and grateful for Melanie, Christine, Jess, Johannah, and all other members of The Den and surrounding areas who have been my in-person office cubicle buddies this year. We have cried, laughed, and grown a lot together as we have conversation that can only happen in the office. My mentality and mood is always lifted by the joy and special talents each of us bring to the table. I’m excited to share 2023 to see what Webstaurantstore 40 has in store for us!

I’m thankful and grateful for all the incredible friends who have supported me throughout my life in different capacities. It doesn’t matter if our paths have crossed for a hot second (literally) in the past, have crossed paths in the present, or will cross paths in the future…each of those moments (or future moments yet to happen) is incredibly special in the evolution of Mr. Sunshine as a human being.

I’m thankful and grateful for Marissa. She has been with me since the beginning (literally) when we grew up as daycare buddies. We have only strengthened our friendship over the years and I can’t thank you enough for always being there to offer your ear for a vent session and advice on whatever I might bring to you. I love that we have our Saturday evening traditions of scary movies, Domino’s pizza, games, or whatever else we decide to pass the time. You are always in my corner and I appreciate that more than you can imagine. I know that 2022 has had your share of struggles, but you have been a trooper through every single one. Here’s to more scary movies, carbs, and successful casino moments (that last less than 2 hours) in 2023!

I’m thankful and grateful for Abby. She is kind, generous, and compassionate. I’m grateful for the fact that we can just sit on the couch, put on a Disney princess movie, and have the best time watching. When I’m with you, I always know that I will be laughing and having a good time regardless of what we end up doing. Thanks for allowing me to experience Fenwick this year with you whilst enjoying the sun, sand, and waves. Thank you for being a sounding board when I have moments of word vomit. Cheers to more games of rummy on the couch in 2023!

I’m thankful and grateful for Ephrata Performing Arts Center and all those I’ve met and had the pleasure of working with over the years. It is so special to me that I have access to a theater so close to home where the feeling of those around you is family. It is a safe place where I can be myself and find joy in the smiles that I see on the patrons that walk through the doors. Even with no longer performing on the stage under the lights, I have enjoyed house managing and bartending more than words can express. Being able to learn more about those that come to the theater, have conversations with them, and make them a drink is just the bees’ knees. I’m looking forward to hopefully having the opportunity to do it again in 2023!

I’m thankful and grateful for my partner-in-crime, Jamie. Her and I have taken on the task of house managing and bartending at EPAC and we couldn’t be more in tune with each other. We know what the other needs and we communicate so well that it has made the first year of experimenting with this position so smooth and easy. She gets me. She makes me laugh. She listens. She rocks. She brings me back down to Earth when I’m having moments of panic, stress, and freak outs. We really are the dream team duo.

I’m thankful and grateful for Hank Angus and those from the Hope Express family that believed in me and helped me to uncover the definition of “being worthy” and keeping my passion with finding a cure for pediatric cancer alive. The kindness and generosity of everyone involved with this organization is immeasurable and I only pray that I can continue to strive and make a difference each day with sharing love and hope with everyone around me and igniting a fire within them to make positive change.

I’m thankful and grateful for the late Pat Kautter who was a true pioneer in the theater world. I was thankful to work with her on a few different shows in multiple capacities at the Ephrata Performing Arts Center. She was always the “theater mom” who encouraged me not to give up, be true to my identity, and give each moment 110%…even if it meant smiling as I tried to fake tap dance!

I’m thankful and grateful for my Grandma Neidermyer who left us back in 2006. More than a decade later, it still feels like yesterday when I was huddled around the bed witnessing your last breaths on this earth with all of the family crying tears of pain. I wasn’t ready for you to leave. Your gentle smile is one that is imprinted in my mind and your presence is one I feel from above, especially in moments when I’m struggling. Each day, I wake up and look at the very last picture we got together at the 2005 high school holiday concert that sits on my dresser. It was such a surprise to see you after the show and the smiles on both of our faces in this image are true joy. A moment I will never forget as long as I live.

I’m thankful and grateful for my online health/life coach, Daniel Buckley. He seems to have come into my life at just the right moment. We have been working together now for about 4 years. He always is encouraging and motivating during his check-ins with me to make sure that I’m staying on track with my food logging and daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly commitments and goals that I have created for myself. He has the best smile and the energy that exudes from his voice is refreshing and invigorating. We’ve had the opportunity this year to have some challenging conversations and uncover more about Mr. Sunshine which has been extremely wonderful. He is always one of my biggest cheerleaders in making sure that I am giving myself to recharge and fill my own cup.

I thankful and grateful for all the jocks and straight boys who got a kick out of making fun of me during the years of my childhood. Because of you, I learned to grow thick skin and realize that I shouldn’t give TWO HOOTS about what others think about me or my sexuality. And even though there are moments (mind you in today’s society…the 21ST CENTURY), that I still get stared at or name called, I often find it a bit more tolerable for me to move on and ignore it because of the harsh words that you threw at me growing up.

I’m thankful and grateful for Pastor Angie and my church family. Pastor Angie has heard it all already from me in the short time I’ve known her and she always has special guidance and wisdom to offer…and a cup of coffee too! She has been thrown quite the task of leading our faith community during such a challenging time and she done more than any of us would have ever expected. Her tenacity and strength is unparallel to anyone I’ve ever met, especially at times when she is going through some personal struggles. She has definitely had her share of personal struggles this year, but she has never let that falter in her care and concern of those she leads at St. Paul Penryn. She puts up with my crazy ideas, shiny ball syndrome of jumping from one topic to another in conversation, and the mile a minute spitball of words I offer to her on the daily. We have been able to work so well together, and I always look forward to worship on Sunday mornings because we get to share our love and passion with those that fill the pews. She is an incredible mom, Pastor, friend, leader, and everything in between. And, in case you need a new community to worship with or feel fulfilled and included, we welcome ALL, so check us out.

I’m thankful and grateful for my roommate, Derrick. He has been with since the end of March and is always willing to do whatever is needed around Sunshine Cottage. He has been able to provide a feeling of safety with his presence. He has brought new life and plants into the cottage and always seems to be cooking up something delicious on the grill which is an added perk! Get ready for the winter season because it might mean some snow shoveling for you! Ha!

I’m thankful and grateful for Handsome Jed. Even though we have only been friends for a few years, I feel like he has been a friend forever. He is warm, kind, compassionate, and every adjective in between. He challenges me, holds me accountable, and supports all of my endeavors. He is always the first person to offer a helping hand no matter what the circumstance. Even if he is having a crappy day or week, he is always checking in to make sure those that he cares and loves are ok. He is a blessing to everyone he encounters, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the fact that he is part of my Lancaster family. He is also the person who can make me giggle uncontrollably with his Snapchat messages. Looking forward to more fun moments and hopefully some more game nights and hikes in 2023!

I’m thankful and grateful for all my blog post supporters who continue to come back week after week. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing content for you all over these past 4 years and I couldn’t be more humbled by your support, love, and kindness.

I’m thankful and grateful for the furry friends in my life, Ginger (Mama and Papa Welliver’s doggie) and Porky (Jed and Devin’s doggie). Both are loving creatures that just make any stress I’m feeling go away with their cuddles and kisses.

I’m thankful and grateful for the individuals that I met at my first ever group art therapy session last week. It was something I had never done and it was beautiful for me to experience. The vulnerability of everyone in the room was so special. I am very much looking forward to going back again in the future.

I’m thankful and grateful for my bestie, Devin. I know that I’ve said it many times before, but I’m so thankful that you were brought into my life a mere 8 years ago through what is one of the worst phone apps to this day. Our friendship has only gotten stronger. You are one individual that I trust completely, which is hard for me to do these days because of the past I have experienced. Thank you for being a constant in my life amongst a world of change. Thank you for adding extra letters in your texts, never getting mad if I’m having reactive moments of emotion over aspects of my life, allowing me to word vomit in whatever capacity needed, knowing that sometimes all I need is a night of rummy playing to recharge, and for always being able to bring a smile to my face no matter what the situation. These are priceless things that I cherish greatly (more than you can ever imagine). I appreciate that each of us can tell when something is off because our texts end up being direct with no extra letters–imagine that. Thank you for bringing your expertise and knowledge of interior design to the Sunshine Cottage this year! It has been an absolute pleasure being able to see you make updates and transform the living space I call home with your creativity and passion. Cheers to the many more memories that 2023 holds in store include me beating you at Wordle many times. All kidding aside, I hope you realize how vital of a role you play in Mr. Sunshine’s daily grind.

I’m thankful and grateful for everyone in life that has been able to look past the walls of judgment our society has built up to realize that I, along with my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters, are human beings full of love to give. We are no different than you. Just because we love someone of the same sex doesn’t mean that we should be called inappropriate names, stared at constantly, or judged because we want to be happy. Quite frankly, I’ve been called the word ‘faggot’ enough in my life. I want anyone in the world who is struggling with their sexuality to know that it will be OK. I know that it can be scary territory to navigate, but I assure you that you are NEVER ALONE. There will always be people around to wrap warmth and support around you in the moments of extreme darkness when you want to give up. And after seeing the events of the mass shooting in Colorado, it is clear that we need to do better and support each other and help other’s open their eyes to the fact that love is love is love.

Well folks, that is all I’ve got for you.

This week, make sure the thankfulness part of the holiday takes the front row seat ahead of the cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes.

Because another helping of both gratefulness and thankfulness never hurt anyone. And it is something we should be doing today, tomorrow, and each day after.

Sprinkle sunshine always,