“How can anyone be thankful for this wreck of a year?” you ask. My answer: it’s the tough times that we learn from the most.
As I’ve begun preparing for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, it seems rather anachronous. All the families debating over get togethers, some going ahead, some postponing, others split. And that’s just the surface. But instead of chucking the whole year out in frustration, let’s see what might be redeemable — yes, what we might even be thankful for.
No, I’m not thankful for the virus; I wouldn’t wish it on my enemies!
But I am thankful for all the doctors and nurses and hospital staff who have worked beyond exhaustion to help those who have contracted the virus. And I’m thankful for their families, who have given up their own time with their loved ones so that someone else may be able to welcome a family member home again. Then there are the scientists and researchers working to bring us vaccines sooner rather than later.
I’m also thankful that, as a society, we are beginning to see how poorly we have been treating our elderly, and the need for a better healthcare system to which all have access.
The Economic Crash
Both my husband and I lost our jobs this spring. It hasn’t been easy. But if things had stayed the same as they were pre-lockdown, I wouldn’t have been able to take some personal coaching classes that have helped me make some emotional and planning breakthroughs, and changes in my job direction.
Black Lives Matter Protests
Of course I’m not thankful for the riots and destruction. (Nor do I believe most of that came via legitimate protesters.)
But I’m thankful that a new generation has looked around, taken a stand, and said, “Things have got to change.” Change is never easy. Acknowledging the problem is merely the first step, but it is a big one. I’m hopeful that we can get beyond this first step.
I know I’ll get flack from all sides on this one but hear me out.
I’m thankful that the system worked. The same system that voted the current president in is the one that voted him out. And in four years, we’ll have the opportunity to do it again. That’s how it is supposed to work!
But I’m also thankful that, as contentious as this election was, it has revealed the deep divides that exist among us as a nation. Calling the sides red and blue, urban and rural, or whichever labels you want to slap on them, doesn’t help much. But listening to one another, trying to understand why someone thinks differently than you do — I’m seeing this sort of movement happening, slowly, tentatively. And again, just acknowledging that the divides exist brings us closer to resolution than before.
Much has been lost this year: homes to flood and fire, jobs, routines, security. And loved ones.
Twelve years ago, I lost my mother three weeks before Thanksgiving. Therefore, I know when I say that these holidays will be tough for so many. But I will do as I did then: I will concentrate on the good memories. Each year I examine my holiday traditions (many learned from my parents) and keep, discard, or sometimes transform them into new ones appropriate to my current stage in life. I do the same with friends lost to death, or moves, or simply time.
Loss could easily be added to the adage about death and taxes always being with us. But we can choose how we are going to react to them. And I am thankful that this year — even more than before — I have the power to choose how I am going to react to them.
And, by God’s Grace and the Love he has shown me through many people in my life, I have chosen to be thankful this Thanksgiving. For the big things that hit the news and the little things that only hit my household or my heart.
So my Thanksgiving wish for you is that you find one thing to be thankful for — however small it may seem — and I hope and pray it will be enough to carry you through.
Grace, Peace and Hugs to you!