How Thanksgiving During A Pandemic Is Teaching Me Gratitude

Many people might not admit that they’re grateful to be living through a pandemic. However, during November, which I consider the month of gratitude because of Thanksgiving, I’ve pondered the role the pandemic has played in my life. As a high-risk (cancer-surviving) woman in her 60s living in California, I think that I’ve been more diligent than most. I haven’t ventured into a supermarket since March, but rather, use a convenient food-delivery service called Instacart. I’m grateful to be able to do so, as it protects me from exposing myself unnecessarily to those who might not be as cautious as I am.

Gratitude can be defined as a sense of appreciation for what one has and for how one lives. It is something that we spontaneously feel, and some of us feel it more deeply and more often than others, but like anything else, it is a practice. It’s been said that those who are grateful tend to be happier. Being grateful also helps us shift our energy from negative to positive. Having gratitude is all about regularly counting one’s blessings. Sometimes gratitude journaling first thing in the morning or before bed helps to remind us of what we have to be grateful for. One thing I’ve been doing more of lately is writing letters to those individuals I haven’t spoken to in a while, expressing my gratitude for them being in my life.

The most important thing that the pandemic has taught me is how grateful I am for my life as a whole. Before the pandemic, I’d get up in the morning and do my typical routines, which included meditating, performing necessary errands, and heading to my writing studio to tap into a spark of creativity. Sometimes I’d be lucky to be able to start writing immediately, and other times, it took some throat-clearing exercises to get the juices flowing. More recently, I’ve gotten a little frustrated because the words don’t flow as easily, but I’ve learned to accept the challenges inherent in living through a pandemic.

The pandemic has also taught me the value of patience. I try not to have set expectations, but rather, to expect the unexpected. It has also shown me how my regular self-care practices such as meditating and taking daily walks are invaluable during these times of upheaval. It has also reminded me of the difference between being alone and loneliness. I am grateful for the fact that I am fine by myself and not completely dependent upon others for my happiness, although there’s no doubt that most of us become energized by having meaningful interactions with other people.

The pandemic reminds me to be even more grateful for doctors and nurses and all those in the helping professions who do what they can to keep us healthy–before, during, and after world crises. I will never again take them for granted. I’ve been married for nearly 45 years, and I’m grateful to be married to a man I dearly love. Being under lockdown with him has posed no great challenges, threats, or regrets. We’ve always allowed one another to have our own space, and even within the confines of the pandemic, we’ve managed to continue to do so, even if it means going for walks alone. I’m also grateful for my children and grandchildren, who all took COVID-19 tests before coming to see my husband and me recently. This was their way of showing us they truly cared about us, which warmed our hearts. (We hadn’t requested that they do so.)

I’m also grateful to all the engineers–my husband included–who gave us the blessings of various technologies including cell phones, computers, and Zoom calls so that we can stay connected with our loved ones and colleagues. My grandkids are scattered about the country, but with FaceTime, I feel as if we’re dealing with the pandemic experience together. The check-in times are so very important, which is a blessing, especially since I haven’t visited some of them in person for nearly a year.

Overall, I’m grateful and feel blessed for my life, my health, and for all those who have made this experience easier. You know who you are. Last but not least, thank you, universe, for all the blessings you bestow.

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