It was a difficult year, but we can feel hope.
This year has been so difficult for so many. We have lost so much — family members, jobs, businesses.
But we have many things for which we can be thankful. In a year when depression and anxiety has increased (at least mine has), I find comfort when I make a list of those things, instead of focusing on my losses.
1. We’re alive.
At the beginning of this year, my father passed away, probably from COVID-19, but we will never know for sure now. His symptoms absolutely matched. The Monday after his funeral, we went into complete lockdown. Isolation didn’t help me through my grief. This is true for most people who lost someone.
But…I’m alive. I have made connections with my family and friends online that is almost as good as in person, just without the hugs. I’ve reached out to two of my aunts that I love dearly and don’t talk to nearly enough. I realized that if I don’t reach out to them, they won’t know I need them, and I won’t know they need me.
And I want them to know I love them, too.
2. A vaccine is almost here!
Hurrah! This can’t happen soon enough for me. It is going to be my ticket out of my house and into public. Again, millions of Americans (dare I say citizens of the world) will be able to resume a normal life. This return to normalcy is long awaited, and will not go unappreciated.
I may have to wait six months or more before I can take the vaccine, but I will take it. This is my way of being a responsible citizen to this world. It is my way of taking care of those I love. It is also my way of taking care of myself. I am not afraid of this vaccine, I welcome it with open arms. And it is safe.
Soon we can eat out, go to the movies, and take a trip. I can’t wait.
3. Most people survive this deadly virus
Although my father likely died from this disease, I have several friends and family members who contracted it and survived. This is true for millions of people around the world.
My niece, who is a nurse, became sick with it. Her daughter and mother (my sister-in-law) also became ill. It took several weeks, but they finally recovered.
My aunt, who has rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, also came down with it. She is what they call a long-hauler with long-lasting after effects, but now she finally tests negative. It may take her a while to get over the remaining symptoms, but she has defeated the virus itself.
Several dear friends also tested positive for it. Some were sick with it, some never felt ill. Either way, they are well now. And so are millions around the world.
4. There has been time for self-reflection
Through this past year, there has been time to slow down and really think about what is important in life. And it sure isn’t what I thought it was, at least in the past. Now I know better.
Politics is not important, fairness is. Things are not important, people are. My personal needs are important, but not at the cost of other’s. I view things now in a broader, more global perspective, rather than egocentrically. I need to become “i” and stand side-by-side with others as equals. These are important.
And I need time to develop my best me — the one that cares deeply about others. That requires me to spend time with myself, just me. And that’s important, too.
I’m grateful for the time to do that. It’s rejuvenating.
5. We can cultivate a new perspective
Since we have had a contentious election and many marches for justice and equality this year, I have a new appreciation for what my fellow Americans who are people of color suffer. I have generally identified with conservatives, but I realized that it does not always reflect my true thinking.
Now I prefer to think of myself as a moderate humanist. While I realize that no solution to a problem will benefit every single person, I prefer any solution to benefit humanity — to lift us all up to a higher moral plane. I want all Americans to have the same opportunities that I have had.
And it may be up to me to help get them there. I read three books this year that started me down this path — Michelle Obama’s Becoming, Stacy Abram’s Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America, and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why it is so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.
My hope is that I can be more open-minded about the struggles that people of color, the poor, and immigrants face in our country. This country was founded with the idea of freedom for all, but we all must do our part to protect each other’s freedom, not just our own.
6. We can create, learn, grow, and help others
I found, this year more than before, that focusing on creating something useful, learning something new, growing as a human being, and helping others whenever I see a need is my safety net.
I began creating my writing career. It connected me with a whole community of writers who support me, and who I support. Ninja Writer’s has been a lifeline to the world for me, keeping me connected. I have learned so much from them.
I can use my writing platform to speak out for justice and equality. I can write to help others build a life they love. And I can write about my growth as a human being because, though I am now retired, I still am imperfect and can be a better person.
7. New life brings hope
My friend shared her picture of her new baby, born in November. Isn’t he adorable? I think so. His birth gives me hope.
As I walk through the grocery store, speedily trying to collect what few items I need, I see women bravely bringing new life into this world and I applaud them.
I feel grateful when I hear about the first baby born into each of my community hospitals in the new year. These babies represent our future. New lives brought into our world is the ultimate act of hope, and many have that hope.
8. Everyone loves curbside pickup
I used to take this service for granted each time I picked up my groceries. Afterall, I paid for the service. True, it did save me at least an hour of my time. Then, in this pandemic, grocery stores began to offer this service for free. And it helped to employ many workers, too.
We began to call in our orders to our favorite restaurants and pick our food up curbside, too. This means that we get a taste of eating out, support the restaurant and ensure continued employment for their staff while still staying safe. I love it.
Then, with the approach of the Christmas shopping season, other stores began to offer this service. What a joy it was to drive up, let them know I was there, and they brought it to me. I hate the shopping scene at any time, but especially at the holidays. Just. Too. Many. People.
Since the holiday season is over, stores continue to offer this service. It makes my life so much easier, not to mention safer. Until my husband and I are able to get that elusive vaccine (at least for us in our community) I will be forever grateful to those stores who offer this.
9. Zoom offers social connection
Throughout this pandemic, Zoom has been a lifeline for me. I miss getting together with family and friends so much. I hadn’t seen my family since November of 2019, and Zoom made it possible to get together safely. We laugh and joke and get to see each other more often than ever before.
I also have calls with my writing groups several times each week, which keeps my social needs satisfied while I improve my writing. We give each other feedback and support, ideas and redirection. We build friendships across the nation and the world that make me eager to see them again at each call.
I am grateful for the social connection that this provides while allowing us to stay safely distanced from each other.
10. Streaming services offer more choices
I don’t have cable and don’t watch much TV, but there are some shows I do enjoy. Our old TV, which wasn’t old enough to get rid of as far as I was concerned, no longer supported anything but Netflix and Vudu.
For Christmas, I got my husband a new BluRay player, thinking it would more provide options and have less trouble with freezing and dropping the network. It didn’t give us the connectivity that I thought it would. So, the day after Christmas, we bought a smarter Smart TV.
Now we have hundreds of free watching options in addition to begin able to access Netflix, and Vudu. Now we can get Disney+ (for a fee) and Hulu (also for a fee), if we want. Even though I only watch for about an hour or so in the evenings with my husband, we have gotten to see some great new content.
At a time when we can’t go out to the movies, it’s wonderful that they can stream to us.
Leave me a note in the comments to let me know what are you grateful for in 2020.
Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking on Medium.