Celebrating Thanksgiving in the midst of a devastating and protracted pandemic may seem like a pointless exercise. It is tempting to tally up our misfortunes – loss of a job, reduction in income, separation from loved ones, cancellation of travel plans, and postponement of celebrations. Then there is the hassle of masking and distancing, the fear of catching or spreading the virus, the constant drumbeat of bad news. For some, there is the devastation of ongoing health issues or loss of a loved one.
What is there to be thankful for?
Psychologists and other observers of the human condition tell us that being thankful is not merely a response to having good things in our lives. Indeed, gratitude is even more important in hard times. There is an old proverb of the Hausa, an indigenous people in northwestern Nigeria and southern Niger: “Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” This is thankfulness that is focused and mindful, the practice of which reaps great rewards. Gratitude has a way of snowballing; one reason for giving thanks leads to another and another. Keeping a gratitude journal helps to be observant and mindful about what we can be grateful for.
However, as we decide to celebrate Thanksgiving on November 26th, it is important to remember the spirit behind the holiday. Thanksgiving has endured through previous pandemics, through numerous wars, natural disasters, economic downturns, and private griefs. We are reminded that even in the worst of times we can be resilient, hopeful, generous, loving, and joyful. As Cicero put it, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
So how can you now celebrate a day set aside to show gratitude? There has been plenty of advice from the Center for Disease Control and others about safe ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. We at Group Dynamix would like to add our own suggestions:
- Gratitude goes hand in hand with sharing. Leave a basket of flowers or fruit on the porch of a friend or neighbor, especially those you know will be alone for the holiday.
- Write letters of gratitude to loved ones with whom you can’t gather this year. Forego email and send a card, which can be saved as a treasured keepsake.
- Rather than visiting over a meal, consider getting together with family and friends for a nature hike or a stroll around the park.
- Organize your neighbors to have Thanksgiving dinners in their front yards. Visit each other’s feasts from a safe distance. You might even consider having front yard visits throughout the year.
- Get active. Group Dynamix offers safely distanced activities and ropes course challenges for small groups and families. Visit www.groupdynamix.com to find out more.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving in this year, we at Group Dynamix wish you happiness, good health, and gratitude. As an anonymous author has said, “There is always, always something to be thankful for.”