A YEAR OF LOSS AND LONLINESS
Thanksgiving is typically a holiday that I look forward to each year. It is a day of slowing down, spending time with those you love, and showing gratitude for the blessings we have in our lives. This year is different. This year was one of loss and loneliness. It is the year of my ungrateful Thanksgiving.
Life is comprised of a series of responsibilities. Our goal is to do the best for ourselves and the ones we love while keeping our sanity intact. Between taking care of my daughter, tackling household chores, paying the bills, and fulfilling any other life obligations, it is easy to forget to stop and smell the roses. Thanksgiving is a reminder to halt, look around, and breathe.
Although I am always grateful for what I have, this Thanksgiving I cannot stop and force myself to feel gratitude. I am not going to sit with my husband and daughter and act like Thanksgiving 2020 is the same as the one we celebrated the year before and the year before that. That would be a lie, and an insult to all we endured this year.
It is important to note that feelings are fluid. Both loss and gratitude can be felt simultaneously, but sometimes one is more predominant based on life’s circumstances. For those of you who are struggling with embracing your gratitude, I hope my words bring you reassurance.
global coronavirus pandemic
The pandemic caused the world to come to a complete halt. It eviscerated everything that we once considered normal and routine. Schools shut down, people were left without jobs, many got sick, and quarantining became our new reality. COVID-19 has taught me the importance of not taking anyone or anything for granted.
Contracting COVID is like playing a game of Russian Roulette; you simply don’t know what the severity will be and the long-term effects it will have on your body. Despite our masks and safety precautions, I worry that we may unknowingly catch this virus. I worry about my dad who lives in New York and is almost 70. Each time we get a package and each time we bring grocery items into our house I worry. I try to not worry, but to not take this virus seriously is even worse than worrying.
I know firsthand the devastation that this pandemic caused when my husband’s grandmother and parents got COVID-19. His grandmother, my daughter’s Great-Grandma, was one of 250,000 casualties to a virus that shows no mercy. My in-laws are now long haulers who still show symptoms 6+ months later. Our family will never be the same, and what we once had can never again be. I am ungrateful this Thanksgiving for the pain my family has had to endure.
political division in the united states
This is a year also surrounded with hate and ignorance. Too many people of color had their lives ended by those that we trust to protect us. Too many families had to bury loves ones for no other reason than the color of their skin. Racism continues to shatter an already broken world.
The political division in this country has torn us apart as well. Instead of the leaders of our country coming together to bring some semblance of stability and safety amidst the fear, there is a civil war among the parties. There is no bi-partisan agreement to try and help the millions of people that were laid off or furloughed because of the virus. It is impossible to turn on the TV or watch the news without the constant reminder that our government, like its people, are in shambles.
I cannot exchange lists of gratitude while there is a tornado of fear, hatred, and death that has swept up our nation. Despite my gratitude, I will not do so in the memory of my husband’s grandmother and 250,000 others, and I will not do so when there is so much uncertainty and pain surrounding us. Instead, this Thanksgiving I will embrace my ungratefulness.
A New Type Of List during THIS YEAR OF LOSS AND LONELINESS
The holidays under normal circumstances can be painful for some, but now those feelings are stronger than ever for even more people. I don’t believe it is helpful to tell others to focus on what they are grateful for if they are overwhelmed with grief and sadness. It makes them feel pressure and shame, and it is okay for gratitude to sometimes take the back burner.
Therefore, this Thanksgiving will be the first time our family will not state our list of gratitude. Instead we will pause and have a moment of silence and prayer. We will reflect upon this year and the loss and loneliness we each feel. We will then each share lists I never dreamt we’d make on Thanksgiving- our lists of sadness, fear, and confusion.
This ungrateful Thanksgiving we will give our daughter an opportunity to express her feelings and voice her concerns. We will discuss the uncertainty of that day and the days that will follow. We will acknowledge the harsh reality of the world we live, and the harshness people have brought to one another.
As a parent, I want to assuage my daughter’s fears and kiss her pain away. This Thanksgiving I cannot. What I will tell my daughter is that I have faith in humanity. I believe that there will be a future Thanksgivings where we will celebrate what we are grateful for, and what we will be most grateful for will be the change that finally took place.