Still Thankful

Fall photoI’ve always had mixed feelings about Fall.  On the one hand, I love the fabulous colors, the cooler temperatures, and all the pumpkins.  On the other hand, Fall means the end of Summer (which always makes me sad) and it reminds me that Winter is just around the corner.  And while Winter does bring beautiful snowfalls, having said that, I’ve basically covered all of Winter’s positive points.

Yet this Fall is different.  This year I’ve been doing everything I can think of to embrace the season.  I replaced my dying Summer flowers with mums and pansies. I’ve decorated the yard with tons of pumpkins, we’ve strung lights across our patio and we’re finally using gas fire pit I bought my husband for Christmas several years ago.  When the only safe way to entertain friends and family is outdoors, it’s amazing how much effort you can put into a patio.

Luckily, Mother Nature has blessed us with unseasonably warm temperatures, allowing us to enjoy the outdoors much longer than usual.  Those of us who live in the States are looking toward Thanksgiving next week, which will also be different this year.  Large gatherings are out, and people are trying to find alternatives that are safe and still include those who live alone.

I’m not going to lie:  there’s a part of me that is very sad about not being able to celebrate the holidays in our usual way.  But if this year has taught us anything, it’s taught us the need to adapt to our surroundings, so I’ve decided that it’s time to let go of what I had hoped for and simply accept what I actually have.  And I find that when I focus on the gifts that are still available, it’s easier to forget about the things that aren’t.

So this Thanksgiving, I’m going to be grateful that my husband figured out how to get the gas fire pit going again without anyone having to dial 911 (his track record on such things is spotty, to say the least).  I’m grateful for all the ways that friends and family have reached out to support us as we dealt with some personal challenges in our family this past year.  I’m grateful for our dog Finn’s full recovery from heart worms last summer, especially when I seen him running happily around the back yard.

I’m grateful that my mother is accepting the semi-isolation of living in a retirement center during pandemic restrictions with grace, thereby taking a whole lot of worry and stress off of my shoulders.  I’m grateful that my son and daughter live nearby with their families, so that I can still see them in a time when travel can be both difficult and dangerous.  I’m very grateful for the vaccines that are finally on the horizon, as that gives me hope for the future.  And hope is something I simply can’t live without.

So yes, Fall and Thanksgiving are different this year, and so is the way I’m reacting to them.  There is a bit of sadness and anxiety for sure, but there is also a whole lot of gratitude and many things that still bring me joy.  And when I think about it, that’s not really so bad at all….

79 thoughts on “Still Thankful

  1. Beautiful post Ann…it’s so important to remind ourselves of all the things that we need to be grateful for…yes this year is different like no other…but it has also taught us a lot… strength, Resilience and faith….happy Thanksgiving in advance 😀

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    • Thanks, Alan! My son took that photo years ago, with his new camera. But I still love it, and thought it was a good illustration for the post. I believe we will have a good Thanksgiving this year..different, but good…. And I’m really hoping my Mom can go to my sister’s house, since it will only be the three of them and they are already in each other’s “bubble.” Honestly, one of the hardest things to deal with with the pandemic is making sure my Mom is okay through it all… God’s grip on you too!

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  2. Great Gratitude post Ann. Your Thanksgiving may be a month after ours, but the celebration style is much the same, social distance style. Enjoy the holidays as best you can and celebrate gratitude more than ever before. Allan

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  3. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving Ann. Focusing on all of our blessings, today and every day, regardless of what’s going on in the outside world, is the best way I know to live fully in the present. Enjoy it all my friend. 💕

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    • I agree, Miriam…you are always such a good source of support and inspiration! I hope that the coming months provide you with happiness and the chance to spend time with your kids! Meanwhile, we do best to enjoy living fully in the moment, with what and who we have. Take care!

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    • Thanks, Lorie! I really do find it helps when I can manage to let go of my expectations and simply deal with what is. Because then things don’t seem so bad, and it’s much easier to be grateful. Which makes us all happier!

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  4. When I think of all the horrible things my family had to endure at the end of WW2 and of the relative comfort and safety my own family, my dear wife, five sons and five grandchildren can enjoy, I feel nothing but thankfulness. Perhaps Christmas will be an opportunity for all of us to see that there is more to this festive season than the commercial aspects that we have become so accustomed to.

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    • Honestly, Peter, reading your stories about what your family and others went through in World War II has helped me put things into perspective, big time! I think you for that. And yes, when we let go of the commercial aspect and remember what Christmas is really all about, we absolutely can celebrate it every year, no matter what the situation.

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  5. Wonderful post Ann!!
    This year all festivals are celebrated in a different way than usual but as you said we should be able to look at the positive side of everything.
    I wish you wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. Stay safe, healthy with fun filling festivities

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    • Thank you so much, Deeksha! I know your festivals were effected by the pandemic as well, but as you say, we can still celebrate…just a bit differently. And as long as we stay safe and healthy, we are really okay. Thank you for that sweet comment!

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  6. a positive outlook sure helps Ann, it is what it is … and so glad that fire pit came thru and that Finn made a complete recovery and that Mum has adapted to her new lifestyle!

    None of them easy feats, so take a nice long drink and rejoice in jobs well done 🙂

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    • I know! And I’m so hopeful because of that. I know it will take a while to produce enough, figure out the distribution (especially of the one that has to be kept frozen), but I do believe we will figure all that out, and that’s going to help so much. And I’ve VERY grateful for it!

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  7. You have summed up the Year of the Virus and the seasons as they move in this unwelcome Ice Age well. This is not the way we have learnt to spend our years under the sun. It’s depressing and downright disgusting at times. Hopefully, we will reach the light at the end of the tunnel soon.

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    • I know, it can be very depressing, and when I see people bickering and pointing the finger of blame, it can also be disgusting. The vaccine and advanced treatments give me hope, but it will take a while before things are truly better. Still, that light at the end of the tunnel is what keeps me going!

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    • Thanks! And I think you are right about the adjustments we’ve had to make making us stronger, and also happier in the long run. Now we know that we can get through very tough times, and that is a good thing.

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    • Yes, I do appreciate having four seasons in the Spring, Summer and Fall. But trust me, by the middle of January, I am very jealous of those of you who live in tropical countries, and wondering if I should try to move to one. Sunshine all year sounds wonderful!

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  8. I was also looking forward to fall here in Oklahoma then we had a freak (read: 2020) ice storm in October that literally took out thousands of trees. What we have left for autumn looks like the aftermath of a bomb blast. Wasn’t the news of the vaccines like a sunrise? Love your gratitude and hopefulness. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m so sorry! I hadn’t heart about the ice storm, but I do know that a horrible storm also hit Iowa a while ago and took out tons of trees too. It’s so sad, because it will take years for the landscape to recover. But yes, the news of the vaccines is good for sure. It will take awhile before they are available to the general public, but at least an end is finally in sight! Remember when we thought our Spring lock downs would do the trick? And they did, but for just a short time, unfortunately. The vaccines will be a long-term solution, I believe!

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  9. Thank you for this beautiful and gentle reminder. Your words remind me of what my friend with ALS says, “Don’t focus on your loss, but on what remains.”
    I am grateful to have crossed (cyber) paths with you and look forward to reading more.

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    • I think people who deal with serous, long-term illnesses learn very quickly just what is and is not important in life, and they tend to focus on the important stuff. I have a good friend who has MD, and I am always in awe of her positive attitude and how much she adapts to her physical limitations. I think you and I are lucky to have friends who can point us in the right direction when it comes our attitudes!

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  10. Amen, Ann! When I think on all the misery 2020 has brought — sickness and death from the pandemic, economic difficulties for businesses and individuals, fear and suspicion, the confusion around the election, and so much more — it’s easy to become sad. Couple that with the natural ‘dying’ of Mother Earth and the lessened sunshiny days, and no wonder so many are struggling. But rather than listing all the bad things, we’d be better off doing as you did and listing the things we have to be thankful for. Because this misery will end one day, and we’ll find there are some valuable lessons it has taught us. Chin up, friend, and keep hope alive!

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    • Thank you, Debbie! I think you’re right, the sadness many of us feel is the result of the combination of all the stuff we’re dealing with. And honestly, even in a “normal” year, I find myself feeling a little sad this time of year, I think because the days are shorter and also the holidays remind us of friends and family who are no longer with us. But a good way to respond to that is to remember how much we still have to be grateful for…at least it helps me to remember that! And hope is always a good remedy for hard times!

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  11. I used to hate autumn, because it was when my son died. That was many years ago and as I healed, my feelings shifted. Now I see so much beauty with every season and I celebrate that my pain is part of my past. I can still cry and feel emotional, but joy is also a big part of that.
    I loved your post. Being thankful truly is what has kept me going!

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    • Thanks so much, Judy! I’m so glad you are able to enjoy Fall again and to appreciate it’s beauty. And I think thankfulness is something that can keep all of us going, even those of us who haven’t suffered from a profound loss. Thankfulness is good for the soul!

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  12. I have mixed feeling about this Thanksgiving. I can see the positives, like you– but I also feel like something is missing, if only in the sense of another tradition put on hold in deference to this darned virus. I hope you enjoy your fire pit. We don’t have one but I’m suddenly taken with the idea of one.

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    • Oh, I know….we are missing out of our usual traditions. And it feels as if the list of things this pandemic requires us to give up is never ending, doesn’t it? Still, all we can do is focus on the positives and look forward to hope to better times. I truly believe they will come eventually.

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  13. I grew up with a grandmother who was given to saying, “This, too, shall pass.” Those words can be uttered thoughtlessly, and often seem trite, but it’s absolutely true. However delightful, however horrible, our current circumstances, they will pass.

    One thing I’ve come to appreciate about aging is the ability to look back on the worst experiences and say, “If I survived that, I can survive this.” I think that’s why I’m less fearful than some of my younger friends. They haven’t survived so much, and aren’t quite as sure of the ability to ‘keep on keeping on’ in our very strange year. By the time this year is over, a lot of people are going to have gained a lot of experience and a lot of confidence, and that’s something to give thanks for!

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    • You’re right, remembering that “this, too, shall pass” is essential right now. That’s why I struggle with the people who say this will never be over, because I honestly don’t think that’s true. This will be different afterwards, but things are always different after a big catastrophe hits. And as you say, we will be stronger for having endured it and probably more confident in our ability to handle the next problem that comes along. Thanks for your positive take on this…it is appreciated!

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  14. Ann, this post and the replies remind me to be grateful for the good things. I like what Alan said – A grateful heart knows how to party in any circumstance. Party is a stretch for me but I am thankful for many things. I think we have to be careful not to blame everything negative on the pandemic. There is certainly a mix of factors in play including the cold and dark for many in the northern hemisphere. A friend once said that snow means slow. We go hard spring, summer and fall. I’ve come to appreciate the slower pace of winter.

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    • That’s a good point. Every once in a while, I’m careful to remind myself that things weren’t perfect even before this pandemic started…we have problems, I had days when I felt down, etc. And this time of year, with the lengthening nights and shorter days can always make us feel a little bit sad. But as you say, sometimes being forced to slow down is actually a blessing. I’ve come to appreciate that more as I age too!

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  15. I’m so glad Finn is back and healthy. Great news. I’m probably in the minority, but I love fall and winter. I’d rather be cold than hot. Well, nobody wants to be cold or hot, but I don’t do well in heat. I need to live somewhere where it’s only 40-65 degrees. Oh well. Yes, definitely a different kind of holiday season. Hope all is well.

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    • Thank you, Mimi! And while I think you’re in the minority, you’re certainly not alone. I have friends who prefer the colder weather too, and one friend who’s favorite thing to do is snow ski, so guess which season is her favorite? All seasons bring gifts, I’m just one of those people who prefers hotter weather to cold. But if I had my choice, I would live in a climate that was usually about 72 degrees. With one month of cold nad snow and one month of 85 degree temps so I could swim comfortably…… A girl can dream!

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  16. I can relate to your woes, Anne. I just talked with my daughter about not joining her for Christmas. 😦
    We did however talk about scheduling a giant Thanksgiving/Christmas gathering in May! With colored lights and presents, and turkey, and thankfulness. I told her that I really need a huge celebration of togetherness to reward ourselves for getting through this. Though winter is a dark time, it brings with it a vaccine. We just need to hang in there a few more months. Be well, my friend.

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    • I love that idea! I’m sorry you won’t be able to join your daughter for Christmas, but how nice to simply postpone the celebration until a bit later. I do hope we’re able to do that by May, and I really think we will. I’ve heard some say it will be years before we can gather again, but I honestly don’t see this playing out that way. The vaccine is going to help, and so is the advancements in our treatments. I just have to have faith in people and in science!

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  17. I feel disappointed for all my American friends too. For those used to having a family get-together, it must feel odd to not be able to celebrate the same way and even you do, to have to sit far apart and to observe a 101 other rules. My husband has a different way of looking at things: he believes that these strange times upon us is some kind of a re-set, taking us back to the specific relationships we ought to nurture and treasure even more deeply than we already do. I guess that also means finding ways to cope with and to adapt to things we aren’t too happy about in some of those relationships.

    It sure won’t be easy, but somewhere down the road, we will be able to look back at what we have faced and overcome, and it will bring us a measure of peace and satisfaction.

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    • Thanks, Caitlynne! I think your husband’s perspective is a healthy one. Honestly, what bothers me the most about not being able to have a large family gathering for the holidays this year (because I can’t imagine Christmas being normal either) is worry about my mother. She’s doing her best to handle things, but she looks so forward to seeing the whole family, and she’s been disappointed repeatedly in the past eight months. I’m very grateful she doesn’t complain, but I know her well enough to know how she feels. It’s all the elderly who are so isolated that I worry about, honestly!
      But my mom should be okay. As of now, she’s planning to go to my sister’s house and have Thanksgiving with just my sister and her husband. The three of them are already in each other’s “bubble” so that should be okay. And it makes me feel so much better knowing she won’t be alone on Thanksgiving!

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      • It is certainly very hard on the elderly.
        I’m glad your mum has your sister in her bubble. In times like this, even little things help make tough days easier. There is no understanding of a safe bubble in my country. Hence, people like my old aunt and uncle have been without the comfort of their children and grandchildren for months now, plus no church services to look forward to.
        So far, there’s no sign even here that things will improve by Christmas.
        But God has said that help will come at the break of dawn. And God’s word always lives.

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  18. Grateful for whatever we are left with. One of the biggest learnings this year is that no matter what happens outside, we can always find a spot inside for comfort and happiness. That nook could vary from the long overlooked patio to a corner inside our heart where hope and happiness lives.

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  19. I really like your view in this post, to be grateful for what we have and learn to adapt to the circumstances. I used to be very impatient and couldn’t handle what I called “transition periods”, when I had to wait for a next step in life, or similar. I wanted the new/better thing (whatever it was) to happen at once and it was hard to just sit and wait. This year I’ve certainly had to learn patience and to adapt and make the best out of a situation.

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    • It’s taught me patience too! I like problems to be solved quickly, and this pandemic is certainly a problem, but it’s not getting solved very quickly at all. So I’m learning to slow and down and just wait it out, but in the meantime, focus more on all the things I still have. And when I do that, I realize that I still have so much to be thankful for!

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  20. It’s so important to focus as much as possible on the positives and you are doing just that. Well done. It’s hard, but so good for your mental health, for your mood, and it also helps those around you too. I’m sending hugs xx

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  21. Your patio sounds enchanting! We too, have been blessed with lovely, autumnal weather! Making the best of things really does make a difference. We can focus solely on all that we are missing, or we can accept the new normal and do all we can to improve our situation. We do have so much to be grateful for!!! Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving, full to the brim with blessings!

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