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Thanksgiving 2021: 5 Things I'm Thankful For

The season is upon us we all begin to reflect on the year, explore our deepest thoughts and feelings of gratitude, and express appreciation for the truer, more meaningful things in life. 

I would be lying if I didn't admit that I am so incredibly excited for this holiday season. The combination of wanting the rest from what has been a demanding and exhausting semester (shout out to everyone in Student Affair realms and in Education around the country - hang in there), seeing these holidays through my son's eyes as he now understands and appreciates them, and my experiences over the last few years (losing my dad and the effects of the pandemic), all of it makes for an anticipated Holiday season - Thanksgiving included.

I'm not quite sure what it is, or why the sudden feeling, but the need to express gratitude is even more abundant this year in my heart than it is has been. I have tried to remain more mindful over the last couple of months - being more present, spending energy on people and things I find beneficial, and investing in myself more than I have - so, maybe that's it? Who knows? 

Regardless, I'm thankful. As we all are. As a mode of exercise and expression (and more so than just an Instagram post), the following are the five things I'm most thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. 

Health, Privilege, and Blessings

First, there is health. The cliche obvious response, right? But after a pandemic, one in which we all now move in a way as if it was no big deal, with variants that currently threaten fallbacks to that time, being appreciative for health is constant and needed. 

I also recognize the privileges I've acquired or gained over time, and how those sustain my status during this holiday season. I'm especially thankful for access to healthcare, vaccines, and preventative measures within the current climate that others around the world do not have. Lost in the debate of vaccines and mandates are in fact our easy (and privileged) access to these things - regardless of politics and personal beliefs. 

And finally, the blessings. They are all personal to us, and only each of us knows what those are. Some of them we aren't even aware of. For me, it's the blessing of homeownership, a healthy son, a renewed focus in my career, and so much more that I can't even comprehend as I punch the keys. 

Give thanks in all circumstances (Col 4:2). 

A Toddler's Lens

I'm incredibly thankful for my son - again, obvious. However, in that, is the ability to now see the world through his eyes as he understands just a fraction of what is going on around him. From our short conversations, his communication of intentions, as well as his budding personality, looking at the world through his eyes has softened my once jaded and calloused feelings (especially after my dad's death) for that of so much more. I'm thankful for that lens. 

Life Before

I read this post that I wrote years ago (on Thanksgiving) and it resonates with me today - especially when I now think of my mom. Thanksgivings can be tough because of who is NOT there. It takes a grateful mindset to be appreciative for those memories, and an even stronger understanding to not suppress them during these times. Let them through. Be thankful for those moments, and for the people God once placed in your life. 

I struggle with that a lot. My family life doesn't look all that familiar to what once was, but I'm thankful for the present, and especially so, for the past. 

The Unappreciated Work

I'm thankful for the scientists who undoubtedly worked tirelessly for vaccines to literally save the world. 

I'm thankful for the educators and those within education who have dealt with so much within the current climate - from navigating mandates, supporting kids you know are at early undeserved crossroads, absorbing the misdirection of "politically charged" parents, and so much more. God bless all of you educators, practitioners, and administrators. 

I'm thankful for the farmers, supply workers, and yes, every one of those "essential workers" who were so crucial a few months ago, but are right back to being stigmatized and underpaid. Thank you for getting food to my table. 

And finally, yes, I'm thankful for those in the healthcare industry. You're still heroes. 

Serve and Support

Lastly, as we are still in a time where many of us are still figuring out life coming out of the pandemic, or are helping others with the limited supply we have in our own emotional reserves, it is not lost on me the responsibilities bestowed on those to serve and support, and the gratitude that evolves from that exchange, as well as the power in responsibility it carries. 

I'm thankful to be there for others, just as others have been there for me. 

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