WE HAVE so much to be grateful for this year.  We are more appreciative of our good health than any other year; awareness of our mortality has caused us to experience nature in a way we may never have before.  We can be grateful for our extended friends, colleagues, and family; and for the extended deep conversations we all had during shelter-at-home times.

Nevertheless, like almost everyone else this year, our family has not been spared from the pandemic’s affects.  Family funerals by Zoom, unemployment claims, health declines, marathons canceled, home-schooling, money concerns and graduations by Zoom … all of this amidst a soundtrack of what seems like an endless stream of economic hardships, social injustice, and pandemic toll numbers.  So yes, I’m looking forward to the New Year as much as anyone, with cautious optimism for our collective future.  And in this time of Thanks-Giving, here are seven of my reasons for giving gratitude for The Year, 2020.

  • Essential Workers. Folks we took for granted are now our lifeline to the world in the form of delivery drivers, grocery store clerks and warehouse workers.  Our other very real super-heroes continue to be the health-care professionals, law enforcement officers, fire-fighters, educators and our men and women in the military and all of the professions that put their life at risk to save others. This all the while tending to many of the same parenting and virtual-schooling challenges as everyone else. We honor your sacrifices.
  • Social Activists. This was the year when many Americans woke from a multi-year slumber when it came to dealing with centuries-old issues of racial and social injustice.   Even though some protests were marred by outside instigators, the legions of Black, White, and Brown Americans peacefully marching for Black Lives Matter and systemic change was something that was beautiful to behold.  I’m grateful for the awakening, and though the broader transformation may take a generation, we’re exceedingly hopeful that some real change can start happening immediately.
  • Health. While many of us may take our health for granted in normal years, 2020 taught us that not getting sick and staying alive was a worthy goal for each and every day.  While we mourn the far too many that succumbed to Covid-19 so far this year; we’re grateful for each and every person that beat the virus and honor their resolve and fighting spirit.
  • Love. I’m grateful every day for the love that my wife and I have and especially so this year when like so many, we’re spending so much time together.  We’ve actually become even closer with our many deep talks – which is a hard thing to do after years together.  We don’t take this for granted either since we know so many who are trying to work through new and existing relationships during this strange romantic time.
  • Family. We love our video FaceTime’s with our distant two- and four-year old granddaughters – but it’s not the same as holding and squeezing them.  We are grateful for the times we’ve been able to visit (safely) and for the health concerns their parents showed for us.  With so many grandparents missing their own, we’re also really fortunate to have our other grandchildren nearby – which is a blessing as well, even with Covid-protocols.
  • Laughter. We don’t know about you, but without some good escapist movies, TV shows or series this year, we might have lost our minds (not really, but laughing at ourselves sure helped).  There were times this year we just had to turn off the network news and find some dumb comedy that required little thinking – but where laughter would give us some momentary relief from all the daily crises.
  • Nature. Like so many, we found time to escape the increasingly claustrophobic indoors by driving to the great outdoors; and remembering how much we missed the peace and quiet.  We even bought our first (used) R.V. to get a taste of getting away from the city without hotels and appreciating the beautiful environment we live in.  There were so many times this year when admiring a flowing stream, a flowering tree or a beautiful sunset brought such strong emotions of pure joy and happiness and gratitude.

For some of us, the return to sports, even with cardboard cutouts, made us really appreciate the previous years’ games we could attend in person and brought us some distractive relief as well.  And for us diehard L.A. Dodger fans, raising the championship trophy after thirty-two years of heartaches (apologies to the Tampa Bay Rays’ fans!) brought tears of joy and happiness – all the while remembering the many who weren’t around to see their home team win again.

I think about how, every year at Thanksgiving, we’d sit around with our loved ones and friends and go around the table and say what we were thankful for.  A few years ago, the wife (Oxana, who happens to be a Mindset Coach) of one of my golf-mates, Brett, said how thankful she was that his brain tumor operation had been a success and he was healthy again.  Whatever we had all said about gratitude kind of evaporated when we thought about how the health of our family and our community really is the most import thing to be thankful for.

While we give our gratitude for what-we-have, we know that there are so many that are hurting, without jobs, and without enough food to feed their family.  The best way I know that we can show gratitude is by reaching out and making a difference in other people’s lives; in whatever way we can.  For me, one of the best things about this year is how many people are finding a way to thrive by giving back and getting gratitude and getting to be a part of the Heart-Led movement.

Your fellow traveler,