On this day of Thanksgiving, I give thanks.
A year ago, if someone would have told us what Thanksgiving 2020 would look like, I don’t think we would haven been able to fully imagine, or appreciate, what that meant. The introverts of the world may have thought, that sounds amazing, we get to check out and just chill at home for a few months. And the extroverts of the world may have thought, that sounds like a nightmare. What do you mean I have to stay home and I can’t see my family, or give hugs, or have a Thanksgiving? What are you talking about?
We may have had our initial responses to hearing this would be our reality, but like anything else, you never fully know, or understand, what something means until you are living it.
And I believe living through a pandemic has taught us all something. Probably a lot of somethings. Like what it means to pause and appreciate the simple things in life. And to not take anything for granted, because you never know when something may happen. You never know when life as you know it may change.
Which is exactly what has happened in 2020.
Life as we knew it changed. Abruptly.
Suddenly things that were commonplace like hugs, face-to-face contact, gathering with loved ones around the table, attending school in a normal fashion, dining out, date nights, and more, were stripped away. We found joy in simple things like movie nights, bike rides, family dinners, and seeing our friends and family on Zoom. When we could finally hug again, tears streamed down our faces as we stood and embraced those we love, not wanting to let go.
It’s been a year of gratitude. A year when we found the grocery shelves bare and when we developed a new appreciation for things like toilet paper, sugar and flour.
It’s been a year of gratitude. A year when we were no longer able to be in the company of friends and family and we realized how much these relationships mean to us, and what a gift it is to gather together, side-by-side and face-to-face.
It’s been a year of gratitude. A year when we learned to take a moment to pause. A year when we have been forced to slow down and take inventory of the things in our life that matter, and those that don’t.
It’s been a year of gratitude. A year when we have seen men and women step up and head out the door in face of the unknown. Modern day heroes rose to the occasion and cared for us when we needed it most. Health care workers, lab workers, pharmacists, grocers, delivery drivers. The world stopped, but they did not. They kept going, so that we could stay home.
It’s been a year of gratitude. A year when we have seen friends and neighbors care for those who were unable to care for themselves. Food and meals were delivered to doorsteps. Visits were made to nursing homes and notes were placed on windows for those inside, who could not come out, to read.
It’s been a hard year, friends. But it has also been a year of gratitude.
A year when we have grieved, and rejoiced. A year when we have developed a new appreciation for the roofs over our heads, the water that comes from our faucets and the food on our tables. A year when we have been reminded the things we are so used to having, and consuming, are great gifts from God above. A year when we have missed the normalcy of school, sports, work, and casual encounters with neighbors and friends, but have also come to appreciate the technology that has kept us connected and engaged. A year when weddings, funerals, births, graduations, and Birthdays all took place – but in a different way than any of us could have imagined. A year when we learned to be creative in our celebrations.
A year when lives have been lost. And the gift of life, and the importance of reaching out and caring for those we love, has seemed more apparent than ever. A year when friends and family members have grieved while their loved ones have been in hospitals and homes. A year when loved ones were not able to be there for a final goodbye. A year when we have been reminded that we do things not only for ourselves, but to help protect those who are at greater risk. A year when jobs have been lost; and a year when, for some, depression and anxiety have been high. A year when we have learned to find hope, and to press forward, regardless of our circumstances.
A year when faith has been tested, and faith has grown. A year when people have fallen to their knees asking God to help them, and a year when we have thanked God for the simple things we had forgotten were so precious.
This year, has been a year like none other. None of us have experienced anything like this. And now, we are experiencing it together.
This is the year of the pandemic Thanksgiving. A year of heartache, growth, decisions, pain, rest and gratitude.
An abundance of gratitude.
I pray the lessons learned during this time are not forgotten. I pray I will always remember to give thanks for the simple things in life. A smile. A hug. Gathering around the table. A haircut. Sitting by the bedside of a loved one who is sick. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new baby in the waiting room of a hospital. Attending an elementary school concert. Watching a graduate receive their diploma. Dropping off a child at a Birthday party.
It’s been a year of gratitude. A year when we have been reminded of all there is to be grateful for in this world. A year when much was stripped away, and in the quiet of our homes and the stillness on the streets, we realized all that we had to be grateful for was always there, we only needed to stop for a moment to recognize it.