By Dr. Jan Hittelman

Most of us take what we have for granted. Not until we have lost it, do we truly appreciate what we had. Consider this: It is only when we go camping (or encounter plumbing problems) that we start to appreciate something that we take for granted everyday; that soothing warm shower. A shower never feels so good as the day we return from the camping trip and truly experience that shower, as if for the first time. Predictably, however, we are back to taking it for granted days later.

As we recover from our Thanksgiving festivities, prepare for the winter holidays, and reflect on the year that is coming to a close and the one about to begin, we might want to consider the many things we take for granted.

My friend Bonnee Oderberg profoundly brought this lesson home to me. We first met in 2005 when we helped form what is now the Hope Coalition (, whose mission is to educate, engage, and empower the community about depression awareness and suicide prevention. Bonnee’s son Gabe played for the CU football team between 1999-2002 until back injuries ended his career. On September 21, 2004 at the age of 23, Gabe committed suicide (to learn more about Gabe and the impact he had on others, go to: The chilling lesson that I learned from Bonnee is how easy it is for us to take our children for granted, until they are tragically taken from us. As parents there is nothing more precious to us than our children. Despite this, how many of us can honestly say that we don’t take our kids for granted from time to time? This is often reflected in the relatively minor parent-child conflicts that consume so much of our time. If we were truly conscious of the amazing gift that our children are to us, would we put so much energy into the small stuff instead of focusing on nurturing the relationship?

So consider taking stock in the long list of precious treasures that are often taken for granted. In doing so, make an extra effort to simply enjoy and revel in the opportunity to be with your children and other loved ones this holiday season. Think about it every time you’re taking that soothing warm shower. Bonnee and so many parents like her are praying that we do.