There Are Always Things to Be Thankful For, Even in 2020

 

There is no way to sugarcoat it; 2020 has been one of the hardest, if not the hardest, year of our lives. It’s a hard truth to face. Our nation has faced a global pandemic, a divide from the election, issues in police brutality and black lives, deaths of many influential individuals (RBG, Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, etc.), and more in our own personal lives. Everyone has been impacted in similar and different ways. We all have had to adjust our lives around staying safe and healthy during COVID-19, while sacrificing college and work experiences. For me, my college classes went fully online. At my job, I have to wear PPE everytime I work and frequently get tested for coronavirus to ensure the safety of our residents and co-workers at my nursing home. I know many people have lost their jobs and had to file for unemployment, or they suffered a large pay-cut. We all have had to isolate and quarantine ourselves, meaning less contact with family and friends. We have suffered physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is the truth and we need to validate our feelings surrounding this year alone. If we made it to the end of the year and survived, we can get through anything. These events have made us stronger as individuals. I was taught that even through the bad times, there are always things to be thankful for. As Thanksgiving arrives, we need to reflect on what we actually have and can appreciate in our lives. There are people with much less than many of us have, and we need to recognize that. Some do not have even the bare necessities to get by every day. Here is a list of things I am grateful for, even if this Thanksgiving looks much different than previous years:

  1. 1. The family and friends we do have present in our lives.

    Family cooking together

    I know this sounds cliché, but what I am most thankful for is the people I love in my life. Now, this can be anyone that is important in your life: friends, family members, neighbors, pets, your therapist, your doctor, a mentor, professors, co-workers, roommates, etc. Family does not have to mean blood-related. I think we find people in life who we choose to become family with. I am not close to most of  my family due to my parents’ divorce, but I have friends and people who love me that I consider ‘my family.’ There will always be someone who loves you and cares about you, so that is something to be thankful for in my eyes. Don’t dwell on people who aren’t present in your life--focus on the people who are! They care and they show up for you time and time again. They are who matter. Cherish the memories you make with them.

  2. 2. Our health.

    woman wearing sunflower dress and face mask

    With a global pandemic occurring most of this year, I am thankful I have abided CDC guidelines and protected myself and my loved ones from getting the virus. I am so grateful I have my health and I am alive to experience life. Many people suffer from illnesses, conditions, diseases, etc., and this year has been very hard for them. I know it can be very tiring managing my own type 1 diabetes, and I easily get burned out from it. Be thankful for medical advancements and knowledge we have to treat these conditions and live with them. Reflect on what your body does for you every day. Your body breathes in air. Your heart pumps blood to all parts of your body. Your legs allow you to walk, jump, run, dance, drive… God has blessed us with beautiful, amazing bodies to celebrate.

  3. 3. Community.

    With many of these tragic events happening this year, I have come to see the strongest sense of community I have ever seen. At my job, I am a medication associate in a dementia unit at my nursing home. Working back there every week has allowed me to see how strong our unit is. My co-workers come together as a team every day to care for our residents and treat them as our own. If someone has a problem or needs help with something, there is always someone there to jump in and assist with whatever needs done. We are there as a family to help and support one another. I have never experienced anything like it, and it is so inspiring to witness every day. Celebrate the community you are a part of and let the people involved know you are thankful for them.

  4. 4. Resources to continue our education.

    girl stressed at computer

    I will be the first to say, online classes are not easy. I know how many of us college students have struggled with the semester and having to hold ourselves accountable for online assignments and Zoom classes. It takes a lot of hard work and self-motivation to complete everything. With this said, I try to at least be thankful for the opportunity to be able to continue learning and pursuing my degree during COVID-19. I know it is not the college experience I desired for this year, but I am thankful to be able to have the resources to still continue college this year.

  5. 5. Food on the table.

    table with desserts

    This is an obvious one, but something we don’t think about as often as we should. There are people in our own towns that go through life wondering when and what their next meal will be. Most of us are fortunate enough to not have this worry because we can go pick up food or reach into our refrigerator anytime of the day we please. Food nourishes and provides energy for our bodies. It is the reason we have energy to do the things we love. When you look at your Thanksgiving meal this year, feel thankful for what you are about to eat and enjoy with loved ones. You are very fortunate and blessed.

  6. 6. A place to call home.

    woman in red plaid shirt decorating a Christmas tree.

    Home does not have to be a house. Home is anywhere you can go after a long day and feel comfortable and at ease. Home can be a person. Home can be a physical place. It doesn’t matter, as long as there are people who love you there. I am thankful for my home and being able to relax in it after a long day. I cherish the memories I make in my home with my family members and friends I have over.

  7. 7. Nature and fresh air.

    woman lying on ground with leaves

    Even with a pandemic, nature is still here and it never went away. I am thankful for the colors of the leaves in the fall and when it snows in the winter around Christmas time. I’m thankful for the crisp breeze and fresh air when I step outside. I’m thankful for the sun when it hits my skin and for the moon and stars at night. Nature will always be there for an escape from reality. Take a walk or sit outside and read a book. Connect with nature this Thanksgiving.

  8. 8. Laughter.

    Laughter is often overlooked when saying what we are thankful for. I am so thankful for it because I love nothing more than having my stomach cramp from laughing so hard with friends. The endorphins from laughing and smiling have such a positive effect on our mental and emotional health. I’m thankful to laugh with my residents at work and with my friends and family when we’re being goofy. Laughter will always be there too.

  9. 9. Music.

    looking out window wearing headphones

    Music is a huge thing I am thankful for. It is my escape. Music will never go away. It is always there for me. I can express my emotions through singing and performing. I can belt my favorite Christmas songs in the car. I can sing with my residents at work and make them smile. I can play music while I complete assignments. Musis touches a part of our souls that is intangible. You can’t put words to it, but you can feel it. Certain songs or melodies bring back specific memories in our lives. Be able to feel thankful for what music does for us throughout this tough year.

  10. 10. The gift of giving.

    Last, but certainly not least, is to be thankful for the gift of giving. It is very fun to receive gifts around the holidays, but I find much more joy and satisfaction from giving to others in my life. I don’t even have to know them. For example, I love volunteering and giving back to people who have less than I do. In the past, I have rang the kettlebell for the Salvation Army, packed food packages for the food bank, served at soup kitchens, and more. With the pandemic, it has been much harder to find ways to serve since I want to stay safe, but it is worth it to try to find little ways to give back this holiday season. Even if that just means donating money to your church or a good cause, do it because every little act of kindness matters.

 

I hope this list of things to be thankful for allows you to reflect on the positives from this year. It has been so easy for me to focus on the negative events and feelings of 2020, but that’s not all there is. There are always silver linings to spot. I hope your and your loved ones have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! I will leave you with this Bible verse:

"The LORD is my strength and my shield;

in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him."

~ Psalm 28:7

 

HCXO,

Rachel