Happy Friday, friends! And to my American readers – Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday and enjoyed some delicious food, some time with family (whether in person with your bubble or over Zoom or FaceTime) and have a relaxing weekend ahead. We stayed home in Virginia; while we would have loved to visit my parents, my dad is recovering from rotator cuff surgery and it didn’t seem wise to subject him to two kids who occasionally forget themselves and jump on people. There was some talk of Steve’s mom coming up from Florida to spend the holiday with us, but that didn’t work out either. So it was just us, bubbling together, but we made it a nice day and, weather permitting, we’ll get out for some of our customary Thanksgiving weekend hiking over the next few days.
Often around Thanksgiving, I look back at the year that is almost ended and consider my blessings. Some years, that’s easier than other years. I have had some Thanksgivings where I was just where I wanted to be – no complaints at all! – and others where I was struggling to find the good. 2020 being what it is, this is going to be a hard year to cultivate gratitude – I think that’s true for most of us. But I am trying to flex that gratitude muscle and remind myself of my many blessings, even in 2020. Such as:
- My health, and my family’s health. Our little bubble has made it this far without getting COVID-19 (that we know of), and so have my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and Steve’s mom. We have been careful, but we are also very lucky.
- Our home. As much as I complain about the band-aid colored walls, dated lighting fixtures, and nearly-exploding appliances, we have a roof over our head in a top-notch public school system. Speaking of which…
- The kids’ school. We have had a roller coaster ride over the past few years and it feels like such a relief to be in a good public school district. So far, kindergarten and second grade seem to be going well, but even if things take a turn, at least we’re not paying through the nose for it.
- Related: virtual school. While it breaks my heart every day to see Nugget pop off of the dining room chair and stand next to the table to recite the Pledge of Allegiance over his headphones, we are blessed to be able to keep the kids home and safe this year. (But please, Goddess, they need to go back next year.)
- Remote work. While I have my up days and down days when it comes to productivity (not to mention just how I am feeling about working from home every day) I am lucky to have a job that allows me the flexibility of working at my dining room table. In talking with several lawyer friends during this time, I have said over and over that the pandemic has shown people as they truly are, and it turns out that my colleagues are kind, supportive people who have my back. I had to make a few job moves to get to this place, so I’m not taking that for granted.
- Food on the table. From Thanksgiving dinner to my weekly elaborate Sunday night family meals to simple thrown-together breakfasts. I always say this, but I feel it especially keenly this year when I encountered empty store shelves for the first time in my life. Having pasta and sauce in the pantry, flour in the freezer, and veg in the crisper – not to mention toilet paper and hand soap in the bathrooms; I know those aren’t food – has never felt more precarious than it does this year, and I am glad for a pantry stocked against future lockdowns.
- Anticipation for the future. It feels like I should knock wood, but Steve and I have made plans to take a dream trip together in 2022. (Hopefully Americans will be welcome in other countries by then…) We found a trip that allows risk-free booking (i.e. will permit us to cancel and rebook for a future trip if COVID-19 messes with our plans through 2022) and we put a substantial deposit down – seeing as we didn’t spend any money on a vacation in 2020. This won’t be our next trip; it’s more than a year away. But it’s something to anticipate, even if that feels a bit dangerous right now, and that’s huge. When we booked the trip, Steve and I looked at each other and at the same time (slight wording variations) both blurted out how happy we were to have something to look forward to again.
- Little things like candles, tea in handmade mugs, Dogfish Head SeaQuench ale, issues of Adirondack Life, Balega and Smartwool socks – all those tiny comforts that make life just a little more enjoyable on a daily basis.
- My running shoes, and all the routes I’ve pounded out in my new neighborhood and on the local rail trail. Sometimes it feels indulgent to tie on my Brooks, shut the door against whatever chaos is going on in the house, and just run. But it’s one of the things that I have committed to doing for myself this year, and it makes me so happy.
- Tea. Always. Also LaCroix.
- My kickass new camera – the best birthday present ever, THANK YOU STEVE! – which has allowed me to capture bird and wildlife photos I wouldn’t have dreamed possible. I love photography, and my new camera is bringing me so much joy.
- Books! Of course! My subscription to Slightly Foxed, and those beautifully crafted little clothbound hardcover Slightly Foxed Editions. Gorgeous Folio Society hardbacks. Fun paperbacks from British Library Crime Classics and Persephone Books. A whole bookshelf full of these delights to wade through of an evening – by candlelight, see above.
- Daily visits from my avian friends – multiple species of woodpecker; Carolina wrens and chickadees; tufted titmice; white-breasted nuthatches; goldfinches and house finches; cardinals and blue jays that pop by my feeders multiple times a day (I can barely keep them in birdseed!). I like to hide behind my car with my camera and paparazzi them.
I know it’s 2020, but what are you grateful for?