12/23/2012 11:51 pm ET Updated Feb 22, 2013

Being Grateful this Holiday Season

Well, it's been a pretty eventful year in my life. I have just started to grasp the fact that I am a senior (!) in high school and this Christmas will be my last living at home with my family. All the big changes happening around me right now have inspired me to sit down and think about what it is that I am most grateful for this holiday season.

For starters, one of the biggest changes that happened this past year was that both of my parents are now self-employed. My mom has put her musical skills (she is an amazing pianist and singer) and her talent for photo restoration to good use as the owner of her new business, and my dad has just purchased a local distribution company that we will officially be operating starting next year. I'm so grateful that my parents aren't afraid to take charge and be their own bosses, and I couldn't be prouder of them.

Speaking of family, I am so extremely grateful for my younger siblings. My sister just started high school this year, which means I get to drive her to and from school now (yay!). She and I have always been close, and this holiday season is no different. Just today we were doing some last minute shopping, and even though it took us 30 minutes to get out of the mall parking lot, she made the frustration easier to bear by cracking jokes the entire time.

And my brother? Well, he can be a bit of a pest sometimes, but I still love him. He is simply the cutest little 10-year-old ever, and even though he teases me about everything, he is still not afraid to come to me for advice on anything. I'm so grateful that I have the most awesome siblings ever to spend the holidays with.

Of course, I can't forget about my two best friends (who shall remain nameless). They are the ones I can be a complete goofball around, from dispensing band humor to complaining about AP homework. It's so hard to believe that I've only known them for 3 years, and yet it feels like I've known them forever! We are always there for each other when we need it most, I'm so grateful to have these super awesome sisters in my life.

Of all my personal experiences this year, I am most grateful that I forced myself to branch out in my extra-curriculars as I head into my final months of kid-dom. I went to Blue Lake Fine Arts camp this summer, where I met some awesome new friends, and right after that I went to Colorado with my extended family, including my cousins that I only see once a year. I can now proudly say that I have climbed a waterfall!

I also joined a creative writing class through the National Writers Series this year, during which I wrote and fine-tuned 2 short stories and attempted to write poetry (still working on it). I got to meet such awesome authors like Maggie Stiefvater and Lee Child!

To top this year off, I have been officially accepted into the 2 colleges I applied to. I think that was probably my favorite moment of the year! I'm so grateful that I had these opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and explore who I am more deeply.

All in all, I have a lot to be grateful for this year. I know I can't let this Christmas season go to waste, because next year, I'll be an adult living on my own. The prospect of this scares me a bit to be completely honest, but if I hold onto what I hold most dear to me, maybe moving out and starting my own life won't be so intimidating.

Happy Holidays!