A New Attitude of Gratitude in 2020

There’s no question that Thanksgiving this year has taken on an entirely new meaning for all of us in the Brazos Valley, and across the United States. We have been forcefully reawakened to the priceless commodity of time and the gift of love that we have in our lives. Let’s face it, didn’t we all always just assume that we’d be together again this Thanksgiving, just like every other Thanksgiving? And this year, for many of us, our lives are changed and Thanksgiving 2020 is not the same as it was before or will be again.

If your relatives live in Texas, chances are good that some of us will get in the car and drive a few hours to join up with other members of the family. But, if we are to be with the seniors in our ranks we may have had numerous discussions about who does or does not travel where. Those decisions are personal and best if they remain that way, but one thing has really come to light these past few weeks.

Our fall seasons here in Bryan-College Station are set by the arrival of football season. We start pining for it, and a break from the heat, in August, and September brings an opportunity for tailgating and reunions with friends. October brings out Halloween costumes and cool weather and November means Thanksgiving and getting our holiday decorations ready. That’s what we know as “we always do these things every year.”

Rituals bring us comfort. They’re a positive, excited outlook for sharing who we most appreciate in our lives. Area families have experienced many losses in 2020. It’s been a bit of a scary time, to be sure, but together we are seeing the best of the hearts of the Brazos Valley. This year we are without some family members. If we focus on preserving their memories this holiday season, it can help us overcome the sense of loss we feel.

I’ve put together a list of suggestions on how to rekindle memories of joy we all had in years past and focus on how fortunate we are in 2020.

Ways to Survive and Enjoy Thanksgiving 2020

  1. If you are by yourself this year celebrating Thanksgiving in a self-imposed quarantine to stay safe this season, please keep in mind that our hearts are with you at this time. Please reach out to friends and family by phone, Skype, and Zoom for a personal visit and time spent together on the phone. Hearing your voice will boost the spirits of those who love you and miss you.
  2. If this Thanksgiving’s family gathering of local relatives around your table finds you without a beloved senior relative, consider saving a chair and place setting for that loved one there. Ask your children and grandchildren to write on a piece of paper, their favorite Thanksgiving memory with that loved one. What was their favorite food item to have seconds on each year? The pie? The mashed potatoes? Did they bring a special dish to your gathering each year? Someone write down the recipe of their signature dish and share it with others.
  3. Someone take out your smart phones and do a video recording of everyone attending your Thanksgiving meal. It can be 2 people, 4 people, or 8 people, depending on the size of your immediate family. Pass the phone around and set it for ‘selfie’ shots. Say what it is you’re thankful for this year. Who is it you’re thankful for this year? Now, take that video after everyone has shared, and then e-mail it or text it to one of your relatives who lives far away. Save it on your flash drives. Look at it again next year and see how much everyone has changed. One year in the life of family can bring changes (for the good) and it’s always fun to see smiles on your faces.
  4. When you are missing a parent or beloved senior being here with you this year, and their passing is relatively recent, your grief can still be great…and powerful…acknowledge it by doing something special for someone in their memory and in their honor. Whether it is the day of or the week of Thanksgiving…dedicate a few hours to someone here who might be lonely, as a phone call or a text message or even FaceTime can mean so much to someone who might be alone this year.
  5. After Thanksgiving dinner and pie, it’s a good time to make notes in your journal about all the exciting things shared by people you’ve talked to throughout the day. What was important and new in their lives? Even in the days of quarantining and isolation and seemingly being alone, there is always something new in the life of those we know and love. Something they saw on TV that they enjoyed. A book they read that they find interesting. A photograph they received or a card and letter someone sent them with news. Think you’ll remember all that next year? You won’t. Too much will have happened in the next 365 days. Save these up for 10 years and you have a family history in the making. Even if it’s just your own.
  6. Feeling blue because you’re alone? Many are this year. Microwaving a plate of food that was delivered or prepared for you especially can be pretty sad…unless you stop and think about all the years before this one…when you were together with loved ones. Think ahead to next year because things will be much different by this time in 2021. You are here among us this year. That’s the most important thing. You all mean so much to so many people. Those who stay away are doing it ‘for you’ rather than ‘to you’ to keep you safe for years to come. Silversneakers.com has a great article on “5 Ways to Deal with Loneliness During the Holidays,” and this was written before the pandemic. It has some great suggestions for all of us to share. Also, a new resource from Aging Care this year offers “Tips for Reducing Loneliness in Elders During the Holidays,” additional useful information.
  7. People have stopped writing cards and letters to family members because e-mail is easier, text messages are faster, and postcards take time and stamps to send. In 20 years, wouldn’t it be great for your great-grandson to hold a card written to him by you in 2020? Tell him what the world was like here now. Explain what an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy or Motorola Flip Phone or a Jitterbug big number phone is. Tell them how many channels are on your TV. What is the biggest business in your town? You get the picture. Preserve history in your eyes and in your words. Paint them a visual picture of what life was like for you. You can be honest in explaining how tough it is to quarantine and isolate for safety’s sake. But you can also explain why you are doing it. The records you make today become tomorrow’s history.
  8. Try a new channel to watch. Have you heard about BraveTV? The Pilot Series? “It was created as an immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic to bring stories of hope directly to the homes of our audience.” Click here for more information.
  9. In all things give thanks for what we have. We have it so good in life, even if things around us can appear bleak. Reality is that the people who have the least seem to be able to enjoy life better than those who have been able to amass more. The simple life means appreciating the beauty in every person, every moment spent together, every memory you make together…and the most priceless commodity is time. You cannot have this day back again…but you can gift it to someone else.

It is easy to say “Happy Thanksgiving” today…for some it is easy to hear it. For others, the loss of a loved one is still so new that it might hurt to hear it. No matter where you are in your acceptance of the passing of someone close in your life, please know that you are in our thoughts this holiday season. We appreciate the efforts you are making to create or sustain Thanksgiving in your hearts this year. Together, we will get through this time and put 2020 behind us very soon.

Thankful to all of you, we send you our best regards,

Cody & Chelsea Jones

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