With thanks

Thanksgiving isn’t cancelled. It may not look like our traditional family gatherings, but we’re not living the same life we were a year ago. Not even close. We’ve taken a direct hit to every aspect of our lives: our family, health, routine, careers, our sense of security, our bank accounts. COVID-19 has triggered every fear we didn’t even know we had. Despite all this, I believe if there was ever a year to truly appreciate the significance of giving thanks, it’s this one.

Hear me out. In the last seven months, in the midst of this pesky pandemic, we’ve been forced to re-evaluate everything we value. All the times we took for granted came to a crashing halt. All the people we took for granted were no longer accessible, except for drive-by visits and virtual hugs. Who wants a virtual hug? Nobody, that’s who. Hands up if you are ready for a serious squeeze from someone you love and haven’t been able to hug in months. Yep. Me too.

If you feel like life is spiraling out of control, you aren’t alone. Read that again. I’ve never been shy about dealing with anxiety, so I speak from the heart when I say the one thing that has helped me manage my anxiety in this pandemic is the daily practice of gratitude (also chip dip, which is almost as effective).

Gratitude is free. It’s easy. It’s healthy. It improves your mood. It builds self-esteem. Gratitude makes you more attractive. Even your jeans fit better. Honestly, it’s just that good (look, you tell yourself what you need to to get through this pandemic, and I’ll do the same, okay? Gratitude is not judgement.)

The key to gratitude is to express it. Thinking it is good; acknowledging it is better. Don’t panic. I’m not asking you to perform an interpretative dance (bonus points if you do). All you need is something to write with and something to write on. Got it? Okay, now the easy part: write down three things you are grateful for right now, in this very moment right here. Go.

Don’t roll your eyes at me. Just try it. Don’t over think it, but try not to use general statements either. I know you are grateful for the sun, a new day, your pickup truck, whatever. Good for you. All respectable. But this is Thanksgiving in a pandemic, people. This is no time to state the obvious. Let’s get specific about your gratitude. Dig deep. Get to the heart of the matter.

I’ll start. I’m grateful for the smell of coffee as the steam swirls up from my favourite mug so I can breathe it in. I’m grateful for sloppy morning kisses from my dog Scout, who greets me every day with joy, unconditional love and really gross breath. Love is love. I’m grateful for my daughter’s smile when she makes herself laugh. Beautiful. See? It’s easy.

Gratitude is best when shared so let’s enjoy this holiday collectively while apart and find the disinfected silver lining. There is one. I’m sure of it.  Donate to your local food bank. Check on your elderly neighbours. If your parents or grandparents are in your life, call them. If you can do all of these things, you have much to be grateful for. That’s the whole point.

Now pass the stuffing and pass the hand sanitizer. Happy long weekend, everyone.

WriteOut of Her Mind