This Thanksgiving may be different than most–the gatherings a little smaller, the miles traveled far shorter, our loved ones maybe in 2D on a computer screen or tablet.
I’ve seen two schools of thought this year:
“You know, 2020 isn’t that bad. Let’s be grateful for the ways in which it’s shaped us.”
And the other sentiment?
“2020 was the worst year ever.”
Which of these sentiments is true? And how should we celebrate gratitude in a year like this?
Was 2020 the Worst Year Ever?
What school you’re in depends entirely on how 2020 has affected you. Maybe it left you only lightly scathed–or didn’t touch you at all. Maybe you even benefitted, if, say, your job was in high demand during the lockdowns and quarantines.
But maybe some of us have less to be thankful for. Maybe you’ve lost a job or a business, put off travel or wedding plans. Maybe you’ve even lost a loved one.
Maybe you’ve struggled with depression or anxiety. Maybe you’ve been stressed as you’ve tried to figure out how to balance the entire family living, working, and going to school from home, or how to make the ends meet on a reduced income.
Me? I’m somewhere between “unaffected” and “lightly scathed.” So far, I and my friends and family are in good health. Luckily, Charles was attending school and working from home anyway, and my job of writing and selling books has the flexibility to be done from anywhere.
But my brain has been quietly sabotaging me in the background all year. There are reasons I work outside my home; I’m far more productive. Here in my three-foot-by-three-foot office corner in my bedroom, I find it easier to be distracted than at the coffee shop or my co-working space. I haven’t written as much. And my admin tasks are all in various stages of “I’m behind on that.”
A Guilt-Free Pandemic Thanksgiving
So, should we be thankful this year? Or should we give up on Thanksgiving 2020?
My answer: Whatever it takes for you to get through. If you have to cry, cry. If you have to scream, scream. If you have to jump in your car and get away from the family you’ve been stuck with, day-in and day-out, then do it. (But maybe not on Thanksgiving Day, if you can avoid it.)
But if you find that closing your eyes and taking a deep breath of pumpkin spice brings you calm and balance, then embrace that calm and balance, without guilt, no matter what your 2020 has been like. Yes, even if 2020 has been horrible to you. Yes, even if the worst has happened and you’ve lost someone you loved. Never feel guilt for moving on.
I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over. I can’t wait to cozy up in my coffee shop or library to write my books, and my co-working space to plow through the business end of my writing. I can’t wait to be surrounded by the inspirational buzz of other people living life.
But I am healthy. Charles is healthy. Our friends and family are healthy.
I have cried, and I have wrapped myself in a blanket all day with some low-level but very real depression. But this Thanksgiving, I do have something to be grateful for, and yes, dwelling on that gratitude does bring me a sense of calm, peace, and balance.
So I will embrace it as long and as often as I can.
Happy Thanksgiving, however you are able to celebrate it.