Thanksgiving 2020: How to Be Grateful During a Global Pandemic

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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.

~ Danielle


Something to Distract Your Mind, If You Need It:

6 Replies to “Thanksgiving 2020: How to Be Grateful During a Global Pandemic”

  1. Happy Thanksgiving Danielle. Your blog post sums up how so many of us have been feeling these past several months.
    I am hopeful the promise of vaccines will allow us to hug our family and friends again and enable us to see one another’s smiles unmasked. And hopefully see you once again in beautiful Lake Geneva.

    1. Agreed! I’m so thankful the vaccines are almost ready, especially for the benefit of healthcare workers and the at-risk population, who will receive it first. But I can’t wait to get MINE! I miss traveling so much, especially to Lake Geneva. When we see each other next, we may have to spike our coffee to celebrate! 🥳 Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe, and here’s to a better world soon. 🥂

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Charles! I have become a City Brew drive through expert. I haven’t been inside since March!

    I am lightly scathed. My out of house activity has been curtailed, but I have yarn, my Kindle and lap top!
    Take care and stay safe!

    1. Hello, Sheryl! We miss you, but glad to hear you’re safe! We, too, have been doing our best with what we’re given. Mostly, Charles and I are glad to have each other. 😊❤

      Take care, and can’t wait to see you when things are better!

  3. Danielle-since it is after Thanksgiving, I will ask how yours was? Ours was just myself, husband and daughter. This year has been TERRIBLE for us!! I lost my job, our daughter (only child) had to postpone her wedding, then to have her fiancé cancel EVERYTHING 2 months prior to the new date!! We then traveled several states to move her home. Picking up and putting the pieces back together is not going well. Praying this will all end soon. Blessings to you. Tami

    1. Tami, I’m so sorry to hear of all your family’s losses! This is why I feel it’s a little too naive for some people to say that 2020 is just fine. It is for SOME people, but not everyone.

      Keep hanging in there. I know from experience how impossibly hard it is to believe in better days when everything is so dark. But I also know from experience that “eternal darkness” is a lie, and if we just keep our heads down and push forward, one day we’ll look up and things will be a little better. We may always carry the scars, but things will be better.

      My love goes out to you and your family. I hope happier days will come to you very soon.

      ~ Danielle

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