This blog post is now available in a podcast. Listen now on Spotify.
The holidays are going to be very different this year. That’s okay. Taking on a perspective of gratitude for all that we do have – even this year – can go a long way toward improving our mood. So here’s what I’m grateful for in no particular order.
- Family. While we may not be able to spend this holiday with all of them or maybe any of them, if they’re still in our lives, that’s something to be downright joyful about! Those of us who know the heartache of loss, know it’s not worth endangering the lives of our loved ones, to share a holiday meal or even a long weekend. There are 365 days before next Thanksgiving and 52 weekends. When it comes to family, I think everyday should be Thanksgiving!
- Friends. Just because we haven’t seen as much of our friends over the last 8 months as we’ve wanted too, they are still there for us. They are a phone call, a FaceTime, a text message, or a social media post away. I think one of the good things that has come out of the pandemic is that I’m no longer taking even the smallest interactions with friends for granted, and I’m making an effort to reach out as often as I can.
- Neighbors. With everyone working from home, I feel like I’ve gotten to know our neighbors better and I’ve seen many of us come together for one another – at a social distance and with masks of course!
- Health. Right now this can’t be overstated; heath is everything. If you are healthy right now, and also fortunate enough to not have any underlying conditions compromising your immune system, express gratitude for that!
- Adequate healthcare. Even if you’re healthy right now, not know how you will handle medical expenses should an issue arise can cause a lot of anxiety. I don’t have employer-based healthcare, and have been getting it through the Healthcare Marketplace since 2018, when the COBRA from my last job ran out. As precarious as that has felt in the past few years, it’s something and for that, I am grateful.
- Medical science. This is the only way out of this pandemic. The fact that two companies in the US and more globally are on the verge of having an effective vaccine so quickly is monumental. When we are back celebrating with family and friends next year, it will be because we relied on science.
- Ability to exercise. Walking the dog is something I look forward to! I am thankfully every day for my ability to just get out to do that. My ability to run is the proverbial icing on the cake. This simple act of putting one foot in front of the other over the course of a few blocks or a few miles helps maintain physical heath and mental health; two things that cannot be taken for granted. Ever.
- Adequate nutrition and housing. We often take basic needs for granted. Most of us have a roof over our heads and food for Thanksgiving weekend and beyond. In Cook, Lake, and DuPage Counties here in Illinois, while 12% of the population lives in poverty, another 30% have household incomes below the survival rate (for my NJ friends, your numbers are very similar). Read about the ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, employed) population and see stats for your area HERE.
- Internet access. One thing we learned from the pandemic was the importance of internet access because it’s what has enabled us to work from home, created a space for online learning, and has been a vehicle through which we have maintained contact with family and friends. But simply logging on was not an option for everyone and the “digital divide” came into view (review #8). You’re reading this because you have internet access.
- Smart phones. I couldn’t even begin to imagine WFH or online learning with everyone in the household vying for time on a shared landline – but just a short 20 years ago, for the majority of us, that would have been the case.
- Zoom. Throughout this ordeal, I have often thought about how much more difficult things would be without some of the modern conveniences like the internet and cell service as I stated in #9 & 10. At least for me, Zoom was the new thing! I had video calls via zoom in the past, but had not embraced it the way I have in the past 8 months. I find it’s much easier to use than Skype and more adequate than FaceTime.
- Freedom of expression. We are lucky that we pretty much have the ability to express our opinions, our passions, and who we are. While I’d like to see more people take on the responsibility that goes along with it, we still have that freedom.
- Activists. One of my favorite quotes is from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” While a good number of us voted, a much smaller group of people mobilized Get Out The Vote efforts, and created awareness for important causes. After the Women’s March almost four years ago, I wrote specifically about the efforts of thoughtful, committed women.
- NGOs. That is Non-Government Organizations, the organizations that help organize and fund the activists. While elected officials can dismantle important programs, it’s the NGOs that keep important efforts at the forefront. Organizations like Greenpeace, Amnesty International, The Nature Conservancy, The ACLU, Equality Now, Rotary International, and United Way are just a few examples.
- Spotify. Music really has a way to brighten my mood. I have playlists called hugs and Mary Sunshine and the songs they contain give me all that and more (next week I’m going to write about the positive affirmations in the music we listen to because there is just so much more I want to say). I mention Spotify here specifically because I love that it’s an affordable, easy way to keep up on the latest music and listen to old favorite too.
- Sunshine. I am so grateful for the sun whenever and where ever it makes an appearance. Sunny days this time of year are limited, so I try to not take them for granted.
- Education. Even if you only graduated from high school, you have the ability every day to learn something new. See #9. My dad always said, “If you can read, you can…” followed by what ever it was I was struggling with at the time. So I’m grateful for my ability to read and therefore continue to educate myself.
- Motivation. It’s hard sometimes, especially these days, so when it comes I go with it and I’m grateful for it.
- Inspiration. There are so many inspiring people in this world. People in my neighborhood overcoming challenges, so many ordinary people throughout the world achieving greatness.
- Assets. We all have them. Yes, that may mean financial savings, a nest egg, or owning your own home, or having stuff. To me, assets are everything. All of the things in my “tool kit” – pretty much everything listed from 1 – 19 above. Assets are everything we collect throughout our life designed to make things easier: a network of supportive people, coping skills, talents, and abilities – and maybe a little bit of stuff.
I’d like to challenge you to make your own list of 20 things. If you can do it, you are truly blessed and have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. If you can only state one thing, focus on that. Life isn’t always fair or joyful. It wasn’t meant to be. Life however can certainly be better if we remember to come at it from a place of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving.