As we’re coming up on another pandemic Thanksgiving, I’m feeling surprisingly full of gratitude. It has been a hard year – in the world, a raging pandemic and an unrelenting news cycle won’t exactly let us be. And personally, two deaths in the family (one somewhat expected but never really expected, and one completely out of the blue) have brought plenty of sadness. But there’s also plenty to be thankful for – including the fact that the kids are now half-vaxxed, none of my family members have been sick with COVID-19, still, and we will be together this holiday season. And there’s been a great deal of sweetness this year, and I finally feel that I am in the place I want to be. Geographically – home in my beloved Virginia for five years now, after three cold and lonely years in New York – and professionally.

Professionally has been the biggest change, for the better, for me this year. At the beginning of 2021, I thought I was in a decent place with my career. I liked my law firm colleagues, found the work interesting, and appreciated the flexibility that my job offered during the pandemic. If this was the end of the line for me, I felt pretty good about that. The only thing I didn’t like was dealing with strident personalities outside of my firm, but I figured that was a small-ish thing in the grand scheme of all that I liked about my job. Now on the other side, after changing courses to the career I’ve wanted for ten years, I realize how deeply, desperately unhappy I was in law firm life – I just didn’t know it at the time. I look back at pictures from last winter, deep in a stressful project, and I look haunted.

I can feel the contrast now. My new colleagues are just as nice as my old ones, and the work is just as interesting, but I am finally at peace. And I can see it in my own eyes.

Aside from the health of my immediate family members, this is what I am most grateful for this year – daily peace, finally.

There are smaller things, too. Travel, over the summer and fall – and coming up in the next few months. It’s good to go places again, to see new sights and feel different trails under my feet.

And I can’t forget the deep gratitude for the chance to spend every day with my best friend.

All things considered, 2021 has been okay. I have a lot to be thankful for, and that’s a nice place to be at Thanksgiving. I’ll keep hoping for better days ahead, for all of us – starting with an end to the pandemic. But in the meantime, I am grateful.

What are you thankful for this season?

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