Daddy, 2020 sucks.” It is this year of sickness, sacrifice, sadness, sucktitude and overall political jackassery, my youngest daughter succinctly summed up what has become all too obvious.
Thanksgiving will soon join the long list of traditions, celebrations, holidays, and rituals that must be adjusted to conform to our new “less than” reality.
Perhaps, though, Thanksgiving is uniquely suited to be “more than” during these times. For even in the midst of all the chaos, confusion and loss, it provides the opportunity to find something – anything – to be grateful for. The root word for gratitude comes from the latin term “gratia” – inferring grace, kindness, and friendship. Gratitude is both a feeling and an action.
Yes, disappointment may visit our homes as we scan the empty chairs that would typically be filled with more family and friends. But perhaps instead of serving pumpkin pie, we can find ways to serve grace and kindness to those for whom we are grateful for in this year of ___ (fill in your own profanity.)
Here are some suggestions that I hope to be trying out this year:
- Create your 2020 Dream Team. Yes it sounds like an oxymoron but, if we take five minutes, no doubt we can think of more than a handful of people who stepped up for us in this down year. Our teachers, school administrators, coaches, health care workers, neighbors, family, friends, co-workers, etc. Anyone who delivered to you, both literally and figuratively, some joy, support or kindness. Write down their names. Say them out loud. You can download this simple worksheet to get you started or use our online tool. It’s a great activity for the whole family.
- Express your gratitude. Just writing down their names will make you feel richer but why don’t you share that wealth? Find a way to say thanks. Use that time you may have spent in the car traveling for the holidays to make phone calls, send texts, emails, cards, My goal is to thank at least twenty people (get it 2020). How many people will you give thanks to?
- Send some goodwill out into the world. There is always someone out there who has it worse than you do. That will almost certainly be the case this Thanksgiving as millions of people are still without work, have lost loved ones to the coronavirus or are struggling to recover from it themselves. We’ll be asking our children to do a little research to each select a non-profit that they’d like to support this Thanksgiving. For every dollar of their own money, we’ll give $10. If you’re looking for great organizations doing critical work right now, here are three I can personally vouch for: Family to Family, Afya Foundation and Yonkers Partners in Education.
In his sobering but hopeful new book, Michael J. Fox writes “With gratitude, optimism becomes sustainable.”
I’m optimistic that 2021 will suck less than 2020. Perhaps it will can be wonderful. Let’s get a jump on that by starting now.
Hope you and your family have a safe Thanksgiving stuffed with gratitude.