By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
To celebrate Thanksgiving 2021, here are 21 things the pandemic has made me more thankful for this year:
21) Movie theatres: I didn’t realize how much I’d miss sitting in a big room with that larger-than-life screen and eating popcorn with strangers who are just as excited as I am to be in a theatre again.
20) Streaming movies at home: For those times when you just don’t feel like leaving home base.
19) Hugs: I’ve never been much of “a hugger” but I’m beginning to change my mind. The pandemic has made the benefits of physical connection clearer than ever.
18) A deep breath, a clear head, and energy for the day: I know people who survived Covid but are still dealing with the storm damage it left behind – shortness of breath, brain fog, fatigue and more. Remember to be thankful for things that are easy to take for granted.
17) Dogs: Their relentless happiness helped us through a rough 18 months.
16) A persistent cat: We named our cat “Percy,” which is short for persistence. She was a stray who absolutely demanded to be rescued, and her determination paid off. It has reminded us to keep hoping for brighter days, even when things look dire.
15) A bathroom cabinet flush with toilet paper: I’ll never run low again, just in case.
14) Two-day shipping: There were days during the worst of the pandemic when a box delivered to the doorstep was the highlight of our day.
13) Zoom chats with friends: To fight pandemic isolation, my three best friends from high school and I started doing regular Zoom chats, just to hear each other’s voices and see each other’s (slightly older) faces. Never discount the encouraging power of friends who have known you since before puberty.
12) Work: The pandemic taught me the difference between busy work and purposeful work. It’s easier to see what matters these days.
11) The Great British Baking Show: This Netflix show has filled plenty of our pandemic hours because it delivers the important things in life – loving what you do, gaining skills, creating something beautiful, failing but then trying again, helping your friends, and cake. And chocolate. And “biscuits,” aka cookies.
10) Scientists: They’re the new rock stars of our generation. Celebrities can’t make even one working vaccine. So here’s to the amazing people who did. Here’s hoping a whole new crop of kids grow up to become scientists.
9) Vaccines: The vaccines have helped us begin to crawl out of a deep, dark hole. The amount of relief and gratitude I felt when my parents got their vaccines is hard to describe.
8) Restaurants: We ate plenty of take-out during the pandemic, but we sure did miss sitting in a restaurant, chatting with a skillful waiter, and enjoying food brought out hot from the kitchen. It’s great to be back.
7) People who go to work when other people can’t: Many of us were able to stay home and work during the pandemic, but there were thousands who showed up and faced increased risks so society could keep functioning – at grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, delivery services, trash collection, pet shelters and more.
6) Live theatre: My daughter and I just saw our first live show on stage a few weeks ago, and it was pure magic. We’re thankful for stages that are once again full of incredible performers.
5) Thunderous applause: I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to be in a room where people are so appreciative of the show in front of them, and their applause swells to a roaring rumble.
4) Comfy clothes: Elastic waistbands – they’re not just for your grandmother anymore. I may never go back.
3) Doctors, nurses and hospital staff: For never giving up on us and getting us through the worst of it.
2) Favorite people: This past year of loss all over the world is a strong reminder to cherish your favorite people. There are millions of people who are spending this holiday dealing with a grief so deep that it physically hurts.
1) Love: It’s number one for a reason. The pandemic made us realize how much we need it, how much it can heal us, and how important it is to love others.
From our family to yours, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving full of love (and leftovers).
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. Her book is available on Amazon.