Still Grateful on Thanksgiving in a Pandemic


still gratefulOn any given year, as Halloween passes and the start of the holiday season begins, my heart warms at the thought of Thanksgiving. My family hosts, and nothing gives me more pleasure.

The house comes alive with the buzz of the season.

From menu planning, shopping (at no less than 4 different food stores), setting up three long tables, for generally over 30 people, weekend plans for activities as my sister and her family travel to stay with us for a few days. The excitement in the air is palatable. 

What happens now?

We planned for a tent and backyard event with family, but we did not feel comfortable that we’d be altogether safe given the various generations of family members. So, how do we proceed? How do we keep the spirits up? For us? For the kids? For family? Where do we get the strength to smile and be grateful for what we have in this mess of a year? I am sure many other families will need to do the same.

We silently want the year over, at all costs, but do we throw away the holidays and dig our head into the sand until it is over? Do we put on a happy face, suck it up, and declare that ‘this will not defeat us?’ 

I find that I need to take stock of where we are to move forward. I’ve considered that both my parents and my in-laws are healthy, and so are the kids. In fact, our close loved ones are all well, and those who have gotten sick have recovered. There are no great big trips this year, but really nice getaways with family and friends. No concerts, big celebrations, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries…

I know people who have weathered worse; people have lost family members, close loved ones, jobs, and much more. It is time to think about that perspective and get real. We are here, and we love each other. It is time to let go of the stuff that, relatively speaking, isn’t a life or death matter. Our kids are watching, and they are smart. I need to change the year’s narrative and enjoy what we have, not just make do with a happy face. Yes, this too shall pass. How we proceed through it will matter.

It isn’t just a fake smile that I am after. It is really taking stock, and celebrating what we have, making it all count. Even when it looks and feels different this year, it is up to us to make it great. Gratitude is a mindset.

I hope to look at this holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, and making it our own without wistfulness for what could have been. And finally, to stock up on enough alcohol if all else fails!