If you’re already counting down the days till next year this Thanksgiving week, eager to be out with the old and in with the new, especially in this pandemic-torn year, I’d like to recommend that we still pause to count our blessings in 2020 – and even name them one by one.
Gratitude provides perspective and level sets today’s troubles, trials and tribulations.
I presume everyone could assemble their own individual list, but here are 20 things that I think many of us can be appreciative of as we approach Thursday’s celebration of Thanksgiving.
1. Doctors, nurses and medical professionals: Even at great risk to their own health, they have cared for millions of infected patients this year.
2. First responders: Because they’re willing to be available at all hours, you and I can sleep soundly each night. Especially in the heated summer of 2020, they regularly encountered the very worst of situations yet bravely and courageously waded into almost impossible circumstances.
3. Farmers, Truckers and Grocery Workers: As you gather around your table on Thursday, remember they are the folks who make America grow and go!
4. Increased Family Time: While it’s frustrating to have freedoms and choices curtailed, the pandemic has forced families to spend more time together. As a result, according to studies, teenagers are getting more sleep and suffering from less depression. Schedules aren’t as rushed or compromised, leading to special times WITH FAMILY.
5. The Bible: The Old and New Testaments serve as the basis of morality and down through the ages have stood as a steady and reliable guide for billions of people. In times of trouble, it provides hope and encouragement along with a blueprint for the way forward.
6. Pastors and churches: Rarely has the nation’s spiritual health been more tested. But like a balm on a burn, our nation’s clergy has served as an antidote, calming fears and encouraging the faithful. “The church is not a showboat, it’s a battleship,” said the late pastor, Dr. Adrian Rogers.
7. Our military: As watchmen (and women) on walls all around the world, our soldiers, sailors and pilots have worked to keep the peace in an increasingly volatile world.
8. A Declining Divorce Rate: Married couples age 18-55 who said their marriage was in trouble declined markedly from 40% in 2019 down to 29% in 2020. Compared to previous generations, these couples are marrying later in life, are more affluent when they do marry, are more selective in choosing a mate and are more likely to religious than the general population.
9. Sacrificial Parents: While the pandemic has impacted everybody, mothers have borne the brunt of school and business closures. Many are sacrificing their careers or heroically juggling a very busy calendar while trying to oversee their kids schooling.
10. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights: Serving as America’s creeds, these foundational documents remain brilliant and timeless. It was Thomas Jefferson who once said, “We are the friends of liberty everywhere, but custodians only of our own.” We must preserve, protect and defend these fundamental truths.
11. Justice Amy Coney Barrett: A highly qualified, constitutional judge, devout woman of faith and devoted wife and mother, the recently confirmed Supreme Court judge promises to faithfully serve for generations to come.
12. Our Teachers: Even today there is an instructor somewhere who has opened a child’s eyes and inspired them to pursue a dream. They light the path to tomorrow.
13. Pro-Life Stalwarts: Those of us who support the sanctity of every life have been likened to those who tirelessly opposed slavery until emancipation and liberation. I’m grateful for those who have pledged to never give up until every life is protected under law.
14. Social Media: While both a blessing and a curse, it has enabled greater connectivity and provided us with a chance to share the joys and challenges of our lives while under quarantine.
15. Online Streaming Services: A good movie or documentary lifts our spirits and reminds us that better days are coming.
16. The Homeschool Movement: While small in size prior to the pandemic (2 million or so children) the pioneers have provided tens of millions of parents and children with invaluable advice and guidance in this pandemic era of remote learning.
17. History: As the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” History remains a great teacher – if we will pay attention.
18. Books and Libraries: Leaders are readers – and thank goodness for the printed word, which opens our world to new and exciting adventures – even if we’re locked inside.
19. National Parks and Open Spaces: Our family has made some of its best memories together traveling the country and touring places like Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Zion and Glacier National Park. These places are great treasures all year long.
20. Tomorrow: America’s future has long held great promise and potential. It was Winston Churchill who once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” It’s good advice.
What’s on your list?
Keeping an attitude of gratitude won’t just make you happier – it will keep you going through good times and bad.