Feeling thankful

Throughout this pandemic I’ve tried to stay positive and thankful, but it’s been hard. Yes, I have things so much easier than so many people, and that helps in the big picture, but day-to-day it is still difficult – even if my “problems” pale in comparison to so many. But as we paused for the Thanksgiving holiday I really tried to step back and feel thankful both despite and because of the pandemic.

I find the history of the Thanksgiving holiday hard to reconcile and I hope that future schoolchildren learn the truth about bigoted, hostile white Europeans invading and terrorizing the “new world”. So celebrating the history of the Pilgrims doesn’t make sense to me, but I do find it meaningful to have a time to stop to give thanks. Yes, we should do it more often than annually, but at least we put a time on our calendars when regular life can pause (for most of us) and we can focus on the things in our lives that we are thankful for.

This year, instead of a larger gathering, we had five of us (our family plus Nana) around the table. We had two separate Zoom calls with family across the country and we reached out to friends near and far. It felt like many other pandemic holidays where the celebrations were similar but muted. But this felt a little different in a good way.

For one thing, having a longer break from work and school allowed us all to be more relaxed and present. Jeanne’s office closed on Wednesday, I signed off after lunch and we have been away from our work computers for the longest time since the summer. And while that isn’t different than prior years, the difference is that we spend so many days at home that being in the same space but without outside obligations feels like a real break.

I am also thankful for the time we’ve gotten to spend with my mom. When she planned to retire and move home in a pandemic I was worried about how it would work, but we realized that it’s been better than if we were our normal busy selves. I have so much more time to help her with projects around her house than I would have otherwise, and it’s easier for the girls to be around when she comes over because they have less homework and activities. It’s also given her a chance to focus on settling in without having to feel like she should be out doing things.

Hannah’s regular gymnastics schedule of practice three evenings a week means we have fewer family dinners together. So having all of us home for five nights in a row has been really nice. The girls (usually) get along remarkably well and the family dynamic is more fun and lively when all of us are there. I do love that Hannah gets to spend so much time doing an activity she loves with close friends, I just wish it didn’t interfere with dinner time. And regularly including Nana in dinners has added another nice change to the evenings.

Caroline’s friends have been so important to her and I have been so thankful for the Girls Den they have created in our garage. We feel lucky that we get to hear the laughing and playing more than other parents and we appreciate that they feel so comfortable around our house. More than any of the rest of us, Caroline has thrived during the pandemic and has really made the most of the time.

And the news of vaccines on the horizon has really changed my mood for the positive. A month ago I was worried about what Thanksgiving 2021 would look like and now I’m much more hopeful. We still have a long ways to go but the news about effective vaccines makes it seem like the end is in sight. And for that I am thankful.

Our smaller, but plentiful Thanksgiving meal

Things that went well this week:

  • Despite the high number of cases, the death rate is staying flat, hopefully that can continue post-Thanksgiving
  • The mild weather allowed us to be outside much of the holiday weekend
  • Our Christmas decorations are up and it feels like the holidays are approaching (despite the calendar still being in November)

Things that did not go well:

  • Cases in the state and the country are setting records highs with close to 200,000 every day (and could be higher after Thanksgiving)
  • Out of concern for holiday gatherings bringing back cases, the girls’ schools are moving to remote-only next week
  • I missed getting together for Thanksgiving celebrations with friends more than I expected I would. Even after nine months, missing out on annual traditions gets to me

Random happy find from the web:

  • The New York Times asked readers to submit “six words describing what made them thankful in 2020” and some of the printed answers were heart-warming:
    • The crinkling eye above the mask.
    • Sunny mornings, a window facing east.
    • I am thankful to be thankful.
    • I am bored, but not dead.
    • Faith, family, friends, dedicated medical professionals.
    • Dr. Fauci and all truth-speakers.
    • Healthcare workers. Healthcare workers. Healthcare workers.

Cute puppy photo of the day:

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