When It’s Hard to Be Thankful: Focusing on the Good

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November is traditionally the month when we focus on trying to be thankful.

For all that is good in our lives. For the people that we love. And for the things that bring us joy and comfort.

But what about this year? When it has been a challenge to find goodness? Or we’ve lost someone we love? And when there hasn’t been a whole lot of joy or comfort?

2020 has brought us more challenges than most of us ever imagined we’d have to deal with in one year. There have been days that it’s been a struggle just to crawl out of bed. Or to put on a happy face for our children. Or to truly feel at ease, and not anxious about the future.

And now we’re facing a major holiday, many of us without the loved ones we are used to celebrating with around us, and we’re supposed to be thankful.

This year, I will not be surrounded by extended family members. But I am grateful for the technology that will allow us to see them smile and to hear their laughter. I know we will have a “normal” Thanksgiving with them another year soon.

This year, I will not be indulging in a wonderful, big feast – with turkey and stuffing and pie. But I am grateful that my children and husband and I will be together, and we’ve decided to create our own Asian feast. We’ll pick up some sushi if we can find it or will grill our own teriyaki salmon. I’m simply thankful the four of us will be together and we all like the same food!

This year we will talking about the challenges that we have all faced with remote work and schooling. It’s been a frustrating and at times painful new way of life. But I’m grateful that we’ve had the resources to deal with those challenges, and we’ve adapted the best we can.

This year we will be discussing things like health and safety in a way we never had in the past. Our new normal will alter our entire holiday season, but I’m grateful for the chance to slow down and to not feel the burden of so many obligations.

When you’ve had a year full of so many disappointments and cancellations, it’s easy to complain and to focus on the deficits. Which is precisely why it is so very important to celebrate every little good thing.

Let’s be thankful for every family member that we do get to see.

Let’s be thankful for every tasty food that we do get to eat.

Let’s be thankful for every person who made us smile or laugh over the past eight months. For every stranger who opened a door for us or who waved us ahead of them in a parking lot or in a pick-up line.

Let’s be thankful for every first responder and health care worker who helped save a life, or who sat with someone at the end of their life.

Let’s be thankful for people who disagreed with others in a respectful way.

Let’s be thankful for every person who wore a mask to keep others healthy.

Let’s be thankful for those who stood up for the marginalized and who worked to make their community a more just place.  

Let’s be thankful for every essential worker and for every teacher.

Let’s be thankful for every day that we wake up healthy.

Let’s be thankful for any and every reason that provides us the energy to crawl out of bed and make our way through another day.

Let’s be thankful for each other.

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