As a word-of-the-day writing prompt, "Celebrate" was both the obvious choice and the contrarian angle.

 

Contrarian because it's been a hard year for many of us. Your essays for previous days were sprinkled with hints of unwelcome challenges, unexpected hardships, and ongoing struggles. Many of us feel the loss of heroes, whether they were public figures or family friends. For some, the economy - national, personal, or both - continues to be a source of frustration. And regardless of your political leanings, everyone found something to be dissatisfied with in the past 12 months.

 

Taken in that light, it is deceptively easy to fall into the scrooge-like trap of believing there is little to celebrate here at the waning threshold of 2016.

 

But...

 

It's Friday. It's the Friday before New Year's Eve. And for many of us the Friday before a long weekend. In fact, many of you who are reading this may have already started your weekend. Or are even using up the last day or two of vacation for the year.

 

Some are observing the 6th day (and beginning at sundown, 7th) of Chanukah. And some are also welcoming 25 hours of rest and renewal in the form of the Shabbat hiatus. Some count today as the 5th day of Kwanzaa. Some even refuse to permit the spirit of Christmas get away so easy, keeping the tinsel and decorations up and the holiday music playing.

 

Some of us are lucky enough to be welcoming new friends or family into our lives - whether significant others we hadn't yet met, fiances who have foolishly committed to joining the insanity of our familial circle, or new arrivals either born, adopted, or simply integrated into our daily lives.

 

Anyone who knows me understands that I am an optimist (albeit sometimes a sarcastic one) and so it's no secret which side my celebratory coin will fall on.

 

So as I fully embrace the spirit of celebration that comes with the possibility of all good things around us, I want to acknowledge a few things I am personally celebrating today:

 

I'm celebrating, lauding, and thanking the incredible team that I get to be a part of. From the other Geeks to the THWACK ninjas, to the insanely talented engineers and product managers, to the folks working behind the scenes, I feel like I'm the luckiest guy on earth working in my dream job.

 

I'm also celebrating the fact that I was given permission in the form of time and resources to create and participate in this month-long challenge. I was given a chance to push myself as a writer as well as an organizer, and I learned a lot in the process.

 

But most of all, I'm celebrating YOU - the incredible THWACK community. Through these essays, I got to know everyone who was generous (and brave) enough to share of themselves. While I will run the numbers later on, there were hundreds of responses and each one gave us insight into how the THWACK community feels, thinks, and acts. You don't find this kind of conversation in most forums, and I am honored to be a part of this one.

 

Thank you all - not just for being part of this challenge, but also for all of the support, friendship, ideas, and participation here on THWACK in 2016. I am looking forward to celebrating many more milestones in the future.