Giving Thanks in a Difficult Year

It is hard to believe that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Where did the year go?

Oh yeah, it’s 2020.

I still remember the night in mid-March when the country finally came to grips with the magnitude of the crisis and began to shut down. News broke that Tom Hanks had tested positive for COVID, then maybe 30 minutes or so later, an NBA game was postponed right before tipoff because a Utah Jazz player had tested positive. The NBA swiftly (and correctly) suspended the season right then and there, which had never happened before in the history of the league. Normal life came to a grinding halt. In the coming days, employees would be ordered to work from home. Schools closed. Millions lost their jobs. And the first wave was upon us in full, terrifying force.

Since March, we have been trapped in a haze. A fog. A nightmare. A nefarious alternate universe. This has been the longest year of our lives. Yet it has also flown by.

In a typical year – whatever that is anymore – Thanksgiving would be a time for large family gatherings, full of joy and happiness and good food. But 2020 has had other plans. This will be a Thanksgiving unlike any other in our lives. For hundreds of thousands of families, it will be a somber occasion. Many families have lost a loved one, or have someone in the hospital. Others have loved ones who are on the front lines, exhausted, caring for the thousands of sick. Travel plans have been cancelled. Family members unable to see one another, even if healthy.

Family, friends, loved ones. They are what make life worth living and give meaning to the struggle we all endure on a daily basis. They are how we grieve, and how we heal. To have Thanksgiving under these present circumstances only exacerbates the difficulty.

Given all that we are up against, joy is admittedly hard to come by. I mean, is it even possible to show gratitude?


Despite it all, we all have reasons to be thankful, even if it takes a little longer to think of those reasons this year. Don’t skimp on this exercise!

Focusing on reasons to be thankful helps to put all we are going through in the proper perspctive. If you are religious like myself, you believe that God has tested us this year, but He provides the strength and blessings to see us through. If you are not religious, that’s ok too. It is still an exercise worth pondering for a few minutes, whether alone on the couch or around the kitchen table.

In my own case, I find myself more thankful for my family than ever before. Not that I didn’t appreciate them in the past, but in 2020, their value in my life is front and center. They are my life. I am blessed to have amazing parents, a wonderful sister, a niece and two nephews, and a loving extended family. I also have a group of friends, who, at this point, might as well be family!

As for my parents, they are getting older, and I worry all the time about their well-being. This has been a tough year for them both, with unexpected hospital stays for non-COVID reasons. My mom especially has had a rough go of it the last few weeks, but it is a blessing that she is home for the holiday. My dad, per usual, has worn many hats. He is retired, but I’m sure he’d probably say caring for me is a full-time job. I appreciate all that he does for me to keep me employed, productive, and focused on the future.

I’m also grateful to have a new nephew this year, Tate, proof that good things can still happen in 2020! Tate’s mom, my sister, who is a first grade teacher, has navigated this strange world of hybrid learning as well as she can, and I am very proud of her for how she has taken on this challenge head on.

There are many other reasons to be thankful. I am still employed. I can still walk. I am still able to do public speaking. Animals in our backyard continue to entertain me (case in point below).

This wasn’t the year I envisioned, but it’s a year that has forced me to think long and hard about the direction of my life and what I value, and for that it has been an education.

I wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving. If anyone in your family is sick or struggling, I will keep them in my prayers.

And don’t forget to make time to laugh! Even if it’s at your uncle passed out on Zoom in a turkey coma.

3 thoughts on “Giving Thanks in a Difficult Year

  1. Ed Turbert

    Happy Thanksgiving Chris,
    Say Hi to your Mom from Ed and Mary from ST Thomas in W Htfd.

    Maybe you’d like some of my write, a festival march toward January 20:

    What is it that casts ease when I am at rest
    Yet throws a cloak of tension over me
    When I open my eyes or move?

    Mid November 2020
    States ‘Canvas’ the ballots
    We are inside the congregation of democracy
    Watching it progress
    Outside some dogs bark, scratching at the door

    We have had years of disappointments and pain
    I’m glad though
    Let tension and discomfort bind us
    Limiting what is perceived to the essential

    Late November / Early December
    States Certify the votes
    I see what I missed when pride
    And the rush to enter someone else’s game
    Closes, blinds, benumbs
    Let the push of self take the bench then
    Permitting to share in even handed way
    Here is the broken partial uncertain truth of it

    Late November / Early December
    At States Election Commissions
    Results are Certified
    The creatures that fly make nests on the cornices
    They announce the events with sounds of triumph and alarm
    Caw Caw Caw

    08 December
    Safe Harbor Deadline
    States Name and Select Electors to the College
    It all sounds the same
    Sandwiched among loud talk
    And urgent advertisement
    Here is a truth in the only way I have to tell it

    08 December
    ‘Faithless Electors’ who switched intended votes
    are halted and the ballots are removed from the Count
    The scavengers when wounded
    Know well what happens when the end comes

    14 December
    Electors Meet and Vote
    State Governors Certify Results
    Leaves don’t have to clothe themselves
    To reveal so many colors.
    The foliage banners the hillsides and yards
    Before their passage to engendering loam.

    23 December
    Electoral Ballots go to Congress
    Merry Christmas!
    Something wondrous is to be renewed again

    06 January 2021
    Congress Votes The Ballots
    They Certify
    Results Are Announced
    The music rises;
    Noises outside fall away
    Some slip away for freedom
    While the remnant remains
    Though the light wavers it seems brighter

    20 JAN 2021
    Hail The Day!
    Hail The Day!
    It comes late to us.
    God takes from us the things
    Given over a lifetime
    By his natural laws or Grace or fate
    One by one.
    Until when they are nearly all gone
    He takes to Himself the bit that really matters
    I only ask let me see it before the light fades

    The music rises and the steps pass and pass.
    Hail The Day!!

    God bless,
    Ed T

  2. Nina Landau

    Chris, thank you for sharing your thoughts and blessings. I’m wishing you and your “getting older” parents a day of good eats and thanks- giving.
    Nina Landau
    who is also getting older, but don’t tell your mom!

  3. Steve Woznicki

    Thanks for the enjoyable reminder on gratitude. I agree that there are abundant blessings that may be camouflaged during this trial but can be revealed when we simply sit and think and pray.

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