I simply love Thanksgiving. The planning, the prepping, the cooking, the hosting, and most importantly — the time spent with those that I love. Not only do I look forward to this day every year, but I look forward to how we celebrate it – the customary ways we have defined it within our family circle over the years. 

Then, welcome 2020. This year has been, to put it simply, like no other. It leaves me wondering how this Thanksgiving will feel, socially distant from those that traditionally have always sat around our holiday table. 

I started hosting Thanksgiving about 13 years ago. Our whole family would get together at our place – a perfectly quaint 800 square-foot home. We would have a house full – upwards of 20 people squeezed around a table that always seemed a bit too small, sharing good food, memorable stories, loads of laughter, and an abundance of love. 

Life is unpredictable. That’s one of its great pleasures and perils. As the years went on, we gained some at our table and lost a few as well.  But one thing that stayed the same year after year, was the ability to always find reasons to be grateful. Every year, and for whomever it is that seats themselves around our table, we each share our 5 things. Those undeniable reasons why each of us are grateful. This year I am finding that I have to regularly remind myself of this — that no matter the challenge or life situation, we always have reasons to be thankful for what we have. 

Five Things

This year, here are my 5 reasons:

1. Family Bonding Time

Playing board games, kicking the soccer ball around, creating Tik Tok videos, and round after round of playing pretend has made me value each of these precious moments we have together as a family. 

2. Time for Passion Projects

I was able to complete more creative endeavors in this time of isolation than in the last 5 years combined. I refinished our dining table, spent a good amount of time baking up creative concoctions in the kitchen, and finished reading two books that have been gathering dust on my nightstand. Each of these endeavors were much anticipated and long overdue.

3. The Forced Slow Down

This year has given me the opportunity to kick it down a gear. With everything on hold for some time, I wasn’t rushing from one place to the next, picking up one kid here and dropping another off there (although I must admit, I did really miss these moments of crazy after a while). We used this time instead to reconnect with extended family and friends via Zoom, and I loved the authentic connections being made during a time of physical distancing.

4. The Virtual World

Yes. I said it :). Platforms like Zoom have created opportunities for me professionally that didn’t otherwise exist. It is as easy for me to connect with people from California as it is to connect with those right outside my door. The virtual world has torn down walls and created opportunities to connect in ways we never had before. It has also been a blessing for students. Can you imagine trying to pull off school at home for months on end without the accessibility of Zoom or Google Classroom? And those teachers. If you want to see magic happen, watch a kindergarten teacher lead a class of 25 young learners through a day of remote learning. Simply superhero-like in every single way.

5. The Simple Things

Prior to this year, I would have found it difficult to sit on the porch to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. The same with taking a walk under the star-filled sky at night. I found myself always “too busy”, filling up my social calendar months ahead of time. But when things that I normally filled my time with were shut down (insert any social event here), I was forced to reimagine and revamp my down time. Focusing on the little things that provide a great amount of enjoyment were some of the greatest things I will take away from this unruly year.

Find Your Five

I truly believe that crisis often brings out the best in people. It reminds us why it is important to celebrate every day and share our love with family and friends. It reminds us of how lucky we are and how important it is to take care of ourselves and each other. 

Thanksgiving will look different this year for so many of us. But that doesn’t mean that all things must change. So, as we sit around the dinner table this year and immerse ourselves in the spirit of this holiday, I encourage you to find your five reasons and share them with those that mean the most to you.

We hope you are all staying healthy and safe during this difficult time. For more free educational resources, or ideas on how to promote healthy Social-Emotional Learning, simply follow this link!

*Today’s image is from The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing and Tammie Lyon.