Wednesday, December 2, 2020

I Am Thankful For 2020

I can't say I'm thrilled about foggy classes, but my cute masks? I LOVE those.

It took a lot to write this. Not because I can't think of things to be grateful for this month because that's quite the opposite. Mostly because so many people feel that 2020 is "a dumpster fire of a year." I don't necessarily disagree with that statement, but I also have a hard time categorizing my feelings on this life changing year.

In general, I'm a fairly positive person. I see the silver lining in things and move forward. That wasn't always the case. At one point in my life, I did not handle change well at all. I still take time to get used to a new routine or a change, but I handle it much better as I age than I did in my younger years. That's one thing I can give my children credit for (and my graying hair). 2020 has had it's challenges and disappointments, but overall, it's been pretty darn good. 

I saw our support system in full swing when quarantine hit. We grew closer to our family and friends. We had time to enjoy them, even if it was through Skype or Zoom. We had time to play all of those games we ask for each Christmas and only play once. We did puzzles, art projects, and took up star gazing. We completed our list of hikes and did our longest hike to date. We brought a puppy into our home. We were shown our children's adaptability in how they handled the year's disappointments and constant changes with ease. These are all things I'm grateful for. These are things that have re-shaped how I go about each day.

However, I am not ignorant to the fact that while my own privilege has allowed me to have a good year, many others have not. Food insecurity, income losses, racism, homelessness (just to name a few) were at an all time high, as the cracks in our system shone (and are still shining) bright. These things have not gone away. People are still faced with these challenges brought by the pandemic and our country's civil unrest is very real. At one point in the year I called these things scary. Now, I find myself asking, 'how can I use my own privilege to help those around me?' Not to say I didn't do that before, but it's become a habit to intentionally live our lives aware of these facts. I am truly thankful I am not blind to the world around me.

My own feelings of guilt for my privilege have held me back for saying I am thankful. When I'm told "being positive right now really throws it in the faces of those who are suffering," I don't feel like sharing my positive outlook on this year. But I'm going to. For future me. For the future I hope to have sooner rather than later. It doesn't mean I don't realize people are suffering and there are so many experiencing hardships right now. I fully understand that. I fully realize I'm able to chose gratitude due to my privileged life. And I'm still thankful.

I was thankful even when my income took a hit in the spring. I was thankful I had savings and I'm thankful I was able to use it. Sure, building it back up is going to take some time and I'm a little panicky about what could happen if I lose my income again, but I'll deal with it. I'll find a way to make life work. I'm thankful for the continued support of all of my daycare families, who have been nothing but understanding and accepting of all of the changes I've had to make. I'm thankful that our families are near us. While we haven't been able to spend a lot of face to face time with them, we've been able to pull off some fun drive-bys and masked visits. I am thankful to have the option to homeschool my children. It was never my first choice, but it's turned out to be an amazing experience that I am grateful to have. It's made me appreciate teachers, our schools, and district in a whole new light. It's also made me aware of the gaping holes in our education system and has given me the ability to speak on the subject. 

Most of all, I'm thankful for the time 2020 has given me. Before March 13, my most used lines were, "if only I had more time," and "I'd love to do that, but I don't have the time." I suddenly found myself with the time. Time to raise a puppy. Time to hike creeks all summer long. Time to look for the constellations in the night sky. Time to do all of those things with my kids that everyone was too tired to do. It's been refreshing to be refreshed. I've spent more time changing and growing this year than at any other point in my life. It was a forced growth that wouldn't have happened otherwise. It's made me thankful more thankful for those little things I have that I didn't know meant so much to me.

Again, for those in the back, me being positive or choosing to be thankful doesn't negate the fact that this year has been hard. For everyone, in some way. It does mean I'm taking the kinda gross lemons and making an okay lemonade out of them. I'm thankful that things haven't been perfect and have forced me to do new things, in new ways. I am thankful for the experiences because it makes me want to do good and do/be better. As we close out November and welcome in December, the last month of 2020, I'm filled with gratitude for the last 9 months. I'm thankful to be able to feel all of the confusing emotions. I'm thankful for a lot of other random things I never thought I'd be thankful for, including:

  • a mother-in-law who sews. She's given us (and even daycare!) plenty of masks to get us through.
  • phone calls with friends and family on Sunday mornings. I used to enjoy sleeping in as late as I could on this day. Now, I'm up with the birds, making breakfast, watching CBS Sunday Morning and Face the Nation, in between phone calls.
  • the usual, not random, but not to be forgotten: family, friends, my children, husband, a job, shelter....very thankful for our house, where we've spent far more time in than we usually would.
  • hot coffee. I've actually gotten to drink it warm most mornings.
  • streaming services. Seriously, as I stream cheesy holiday movies on Netflix, where would this year have gone if we didn't have that??
  • grocery pick ups and deliveries
  • cats that sleep on me on cold nights
  • a puppy who is full of energy
  • creating new traditions. This has helped keep sadness away as we're faced with so many can't do's this year.
  • online shopping, meal deliveries, and anything else that comes right to my door
  • neighbors, who all came together and supported one another when the derecho hit
  • Google. I use it A LOT for homeschooling
  • our homeschool assistance teacher. She is my rock this school year.
  • re-learning middle school everything
  • electricity. It was GREATLY missed during that week in August
  • random road trips
  • hiking
  • a handy husband and the physical ability to do home improvement projects. Because of these two things, we were able to build TWO school rooms in our house for this year of learning
  • pencil sharpeners. It's amazing how many pencils kids can go through doing their school work.
  • my printer, because I do a ridiculous amount of printing these days
  • sweat pants and messy buns for being acceptable now
  • Khan Academy, for taking care of math classes for me