It is almost Thanksgiving! This year it will be celebrated much differently than in the past. Whether meaning a canceled plane ticket, the bird on the table being a turkey breast or Cornish game hen, or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade without crowds, we all have to make some adjustments this year. It might seem hard to come up with things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving when so much is being taken away from us.
I came across a question recently that asked “What are the things that you will not take for granted after 2020?”. I reflected on this extremely chaotic year which started with the emerging virus that has been relentlessly and viciously attacking us all nondiscriminately. Then came the Black Lives Matter movement which was ignited by police brutality, the devastating record-breaking fires throughout the country, the dramatic presidential election that is still unresolved, and now yet another shutdown in LA County, where I live. Outdoor dining is banned, schools are closed again, and family Thanksgiving gatherings are being cancelled. So what I wont’ take for granted after 2020? I came up with three things - hugs, masks, and toilet paper.
Hugs. COVID-19 has forced us to keep social distance. Our normal human physical interactions of handshakes and hugs are replaced with minimum six-feet distancing. Even eye contact seems to have the potential for the virus to spread its deadly spell (Don’t quote me on this – this is NOT true!). Of course, we are grateful for things when we have them, but we reach a new level of thankfulness once they are taken away. Not only will I squeeze you extra harder and longer when this is over, I will take extra moments to acknowledge and appreciate the things I do have now, such as zoom meetings that connect families, friends, and colleagues.
Masks. I used to wear a mask when biking to school in freezing weather back in China, where I grew up - the mask kept my face warmer. Now, I wear a mask to keep myself and, especially others, safe. Everyone here has been required to wear a mask in public spaces, but I was dumbfounded when I saw so many people wearing no face covering in the cities and towns along Route 66. This is not about freedom being taken away, this is about responsibility - the responsibility not only for oneself but for others. It is our duty. Wearing a mask can save lives. I will not take this duty or any other duties for granted.
Toilet Paper. I initially wrote this down to be funny, but there is a lot of truth in it, isn’t there? Key household items are again limited to two items per grocery visit. Seriously? Shortages such as toilet paper and meat supplies are reasonable fears during a pandemic or a natural disaster. We saw medication purchases surge in April and May right after the pandemic first hit – people were hoarding life-saving and life-sustaining drugs. I even bought a toilet paper holiday ornament to remind myself not to take the simple, basic and essential things in life for granted.
There are so many things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving - my family is well and free of COVID-19, the new mountains and trails I discovered after the gym closed, the time to stay home and be with my family (and myself), and a job I love – working with all of you as we each do what we do best.
This situation is not as simple as making lemonade out of lemons, it is a matter of survival. I have my Christmas tree up earlier this year. Why not? It brings warmth, comfort and light when those things are hard to find.
A book has many chapters. We have been living through a bad chapter, but we can still have a good book. Stay positive, strong, and hopeful! We are all in this together. This too, in time, shall pass.
From my family to yours: Have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving!