In the alternate universe where a global health crisis didn’t happen, I’m planning my 7th annual Friendsgiving feast this month. The virtual signup sheet for who’s bringing what went up weeks ago, after we’d all agreed on a date, and now I’m fine-tuning the details and making sure we’ve got all the Thanksgiving food heavyweights covered. I’m taking care of the turkey and mac & cheese, as usual.
I’m also making a list of things to pick up at Hobby Lobby, knowing full well I’ll end up with a cart full of cute fall decor stuff that I have nowhere to put because my holiday tub is overflowing already. But I mean…how can I not get the turkey-shaped placeholder cards?
I’m jealous of alternate universe Jennifer. She’s having a great time right now.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with anxiety and sadness and yes, even anger, at the way things have gone this year — for many different reasons. Those are valid feelings, too, for this bizarrest of years. But as we head into the holiday season, where nothing looks like it used to and fewer daylight hours will make things worse, I’m still consciously aware of how blessed I am with the life I’ve got, even in 2020. And maybe that’s a little hokey, but I’ll take hokey over hopeless any day of the week.
In honor of the season of thankfulness and because lists make me happy, here are 30 things I’m thankful for in 2020 (in no particular order).
- Friends. Early in the pandemic, my friends and I started doing weekly game nights. We’ve also generally stayed connected virtually since March, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that this has kept me sane. People need people. And I’m thankful for my people.
- Hot tea. A good, strong cup of Typhoo black tea with a little heavy cream and pinch of brown sugar. Perfection.
- Video chats. How do my friends and I stay connected? Zoom. Or Skype. Or Google Hangouts. Any way you slice it, video chats have been a lifesaver this year.
- This apartment. We sold our house in January not knowing what the year would hold. I miss having a large backyard, but I love the convenience of living in our apartment. The complex itself is pretty cool, too.
- Our jobs. My husband has been able to work from home the entire year, which alleviated one point of stress about exposure to COVID. I already worked from home as an independent contractor for the best client. We’ve been incredibly fortunate on the job front.
- Jackbox games. Our weekly virtual game nights star various Jackbox Party Packs, and there aren’t many games we don’t like.
- The tablet. Working from home and trying to keep a five-year-old busy/entertained has not been easy. It’s a little easier with our electronic babysitter (sorry, American Academy of Pediatrics).
- My parents and in-laws. My parents and my in-laws each watch the kiddo one day a week because we’ve all been careful about exposure. We could not have done this year without them. Period.
- Netflix. There’s a whole lotta streaming options out there, but Netflix is still my favorite.
- Internet access. And while we’re on the subject, let’s give a warm round of applause for the internet, making virtual connection possible since…whenever it was created, I guess?
- Democracy. We all have a say in who runs our government and how it should run. It’s not a perfect system, but it works.
- Carbs. The scale disagrees with this entry, but I don’t need its negativity in my life in 2020. Carbs are the best.
- Facebook groups. I’m a member of some pretty awesome Facebook groups, some of which have supplied me with ample reading material this year.
- The Great British Baking Show. Enough said, right? I wish every reality competition show were like this one. Calm and pleasant with light British cheek. (Plus, you know, carbs.)
- Our city’s natural beauty. Have you ever stopped to appreciate how beautiful Chattanooga is? It’s incredible. I’m not even a nature person and I love how diverse the area is.
- Harry Potter. I read the series every year. Journeying with The Boy Who Lived never gets old.
- Curbside pickup. Groceries, Chick-fil-A, crafting supplies, you name it. I’m all in on curbside pickup.
- Amazon Music. Amazon really upped its music streaming service. The “My Soundtrack” station is almost eerily accurate.
- Scientists. Epidemiologists, medical researchers, doctors, and other people working in scientific fields aren’t perfect, but they’re trying — trying hard and quickly — to fight this pandemic and produce a vaccine in record time. All the props to these folks.
- Low gas prices. We’ve driven a lot less this year, but when we do get gas, it’s almost as cheap as it was when I graduated high school in 2004. Amazing.
- Online shopping. You click a few buttons and boxes arrive on your doorstep, like magic, sometimes in two days. (Thanks to all the drivers working harder than ever this year due to increased demand.)
- Informative podcasts. I listen to several podcasts to stay on top of healthcare news for my job. My favorite for health policy news is KHN’s “What the Health?”
- Face masks. Like ‘em or not, these small rectangles help reduce transmission and keep us a bit safer. And they’re readily available these days, too.
- A full pantry. I’m a bit of a pantry pack rat (read: impulse shopper), and I’m grateful for the ability to keep adequate food on hand, a luxury not everyone can do.
- People willing to sacrifice for others. Special, sincere thanks to all the frontline workers, medical first responders, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, and everyone else who’s kept society running this year.
- Family Movie Nights. My husband and I established weekly “family movie nights” this year, in which we pop some popcorn and have a treat with our kiddo while we watch a movie in bed. It’s quality family time that we can thank extra at-home time for.
- Redshirting. We had always planned to delay kindergarten enrollment, but this year made that decision easier. I’m thankful that we had the opportunity to keep him home for another year.
- Virtual access to lots of things. Virtual museum tours, online learning, you name it. The Tennessee Aquarium has offered some particularly fun and educational Facebook Live videos this year.
- My boys. My husband is a classic introvert, so he doesn’t mind never leaving the house or social distancing from the human race. But he knows I miss being out and about, and he’s been doing his best to keep us all steady at home. My kiddo, meanwhile, also seems to be A-OK with the modified arrangements (as long as he still gets to see his grandmas). He’s bright and funny and goofy and a LEGO enthusiast. I’m beyond thankful for these boys God’s given me.
- Good health. I don’t want to overlook the nearly 230,000 Americans who’ve lost their lives due to COVID-19. It’s devastating. But I am thankful that my family has been well this year, without so much as a sniffle since January. We’ve struggled with the mental effects of the pandemic, but the virus hasn’t reached us in a tangible way. I’m truly grateful for that.