Ahhh, Thanksgiving! It is one of my favorite holidays. Even in 2020. What has been true in other years is still true this year. I love Thanksgiving’s warmth and coziness. I love its focus on food, not gifts. I love that it is a secular holiday that almost every American celebrates. And I love that it is an opportunity to give thanks and express gratitude.
That said, I will miss what we cannot do this year: join with our friends and family in person to celebrate. With the coronavirus surging, my family has had to adjust our plans. We will not be spending the holiday as we have for the past 20+ years with our nearby friends who have become like family. And we will not be traveling to see my mother-in-law in North Carolina. As with so many things in 2020, Thanksgiving this year will be uniquely challenging to our traditions.
What we will be doing is spending the day with our four kids and our dog, cooking up a storm. And for that I am profoundly grateful. We will also find a way to connect with our beloved friends and family via a Zoom call, so that we can express our gratitude and hold onto some of our traditions.
In preparation for our gatherings, at home and on Zoom, I want to share some of what I am grateful for this year:
- I am grateful for all of the front-line healthcare and essential workers, including paid and unpaid caregivers, who are bravely facing the current coronavirus surge. Our lives depend on what they are doing, and we are forever in their debt.
- I am grateful for all of the people who have worked tirelessly and collaboratively to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, and for the fact that they have found, in such a short period of time, vaccine options that are 95% effective. These vaccines will help bring the worldwide pandemic to a speedier end, which is incredible.
- I am grateful for the process and outcome of the 2020 presidential election, culminating in the win of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The fact that we had record voter turnout and the voting process was safe and secure, even during a pandemic, was remarkable. And beyond that, electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris has provided me with tremendous psychic relief – it’s like a huge weight has been lifted. As one of my friends said, “I can breathe again.” Because installing Biden-Harris brings a return of the values that I cherish in our leaders, including humanity, honesty, and decency. It also means that we have a better shot at surviving this pandemic, and ending it sooner, because science, facts, and fairness will prevail. Furthermore, the election of Biden-Harris means there is the possibility of expanding healthcare coverage to more Americans, beyond what we did with the original Affordable Care Act. (At a minimum, we will not have to expend so much energy trying to save the ACA – we can redeploy this energy to finding ways to build upon its successes!)
- I am grateful for my family and my team at work, who have persevered through this pandemic, in spite of all of the frustrations and disappointments. (Hang in there!)
- Last, but not least, I am grateful for the friends who encouraged me to start a gratitude journal this year. I actually did it, starting January 1, 2020 – in it, I note things that I am grateful for each day, big and small. What great advice! It has been a blessing. We had no idea this year would bring a pandemic that would challenge us in every possible way. One of the things that has helped me to survive, and even thrive (on some days), is my gratitude journal.
I would love to know what you feel grateful for this year – please feel free to share your thoughts below. In the meantime, I wish you a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving!