By Andrea Goff
2020, the year of vision, who would have thought that it would bring so many changes to our world? As we head into this season of Thanksgiving let us take a few moments to reflect on the ways the Corona virus has changed our lives. It all began with toilet paper shortages and being told to wash our hands well. Beaches were closed to send Spring Breakers home, and then remained closed, challenging those exercising to move off the sidewalk into the road to keep a 6′ distance. Masks didn’t work, and then they did. We felt confused. We binge watched Netflix, Zoomed until our eyes hurt, and cancelled all our travel plans. Our homes during lockdown were our work places, our schools and, for those who lived alone, a place of somber isolation. Our gardens became our sanctuaries and curbside food pickup and drive by parties, in a feeble attempt at celebration, became the norm. Places of worship were closed. Some of us ate and drank too much, while others, with gyms unavailable, took to extreme exercise to give ourselves a sense of normality. Job loss and fear of not being able to meet bills added to stress. People missed their extended families, some lost loved ones to the invisible virus, and the world collectively grieved for the freedom it had once known.
Experts refer to five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Author CS Lewis described grief as not a state, but a process. People look for someone to blame; China, their mayor, the local state Governor, President Trump and even their own family, especially when in tight quarters. It has became very important to own our emotions and process them in healthy ways, such as by crying, journaling, and talking. Laughter and music are incredible tools to diffuse stress and anger. Empathy for those struggling goes a long way. Getting good nutrition, exercise, sunlight, and time in nature, as well as using meditation or prayer are good self-care practices. Recognizing the season, and having optimistic hope that it won’t always be this way, is vital.
As we think about Thanksgiving, we can rejoice in the positives that have also come from this season of social separation. Exhausted families have found time to reconnect, freed from the never-ending hamster wheel of activities. Home cooked meals and eating around the table have found revival. Unable to travel, many have rediscovered their home towns and social distanced with neighbors. People have generally been more available. Churches and synagogues have honed their online services and many who would never normally enter a religious building have explored and found peace in spirituality and time for reflection. Some have profited and business owners have set new goals and visions, or reinvented themselves in the vein of American creativity. As we gather (in smaller numbers) around our tables this Thanksgiving, let’s reflect on the many blessings our great country has afforded us and, perhaps this year, as adversity so often does, we will have a deeper appreciation for all we hold dear.