It is incredibly difficult for me to believe that after six months of March 2020, this is the weekend prior to Thanksgiving! 

When in the world did warp speed reintroduce itself? 

I recall thinking in March, right after COVID-19 struck in a huge way, that Thanksgiving couldn’t get here quickly enough. The next thing I know … it is less than a week away. 

I guess time flies even when we aren’t having as much fun.

Anyway, although it is sure to look different this year with smaller celebrations — the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade being delivered mostly remotely; fewer people in the skies; and no in-person Black Friday shopping frenzies — surely we can find something to be thankful about as we eat our late November holiday meal and prepare for Christmas.

Last November, my Aunt Janet gave me a large glass with the word “Gratitude” monogrammed on it. It was accompanied by two boxes of cards also with the word “Gratitude” written on them.

Webster defines gratitude as “an expression of appreciation for what one has.”

The idea is you write things for which you are thankful on the cards and place them in the bowl. This exercise is designed to force you to ponder gratitude and thankfulness as you write them, and again later when you read them.

I decided to wait until Jan. 1, 2020, and write down at least one thing each day for which I am thankful. It started off really well. I was able to easily jot down something every day: some were broader thank-yous; others were more specific. If I couldn’t think of something really precise, I would default to something more general: the air we breathe, etc.

Then, oh then, came Friday, March 13, when the world as we know it changed. 

People were getting sick, and some were dying; restaurants shut down; businesses closed; masks were donned; toilet paper was in high demand; and cleaning supplies were sought after more than new cars. COVID-19 struck in a very impactful way.

How do you fill a cylindrical glass with cards of gratitude when the world around us looked so bleak? How? 

Surprisingly enough, I have been able to do it. 

Some days, I would pick up the white card with the gold letters blazing across them and struggle to find something exact to print. Other times, I felt guilty that I had something positive to pen as so many others were hurting from job loss; emotional problems; health issues; or strained relationships from the results of dealing with the coronavirus. 

But here is what I discovered: Even in the worst of times, there are things for which we can say thank you. It may be a text, phone call or email from someone you haven’t heard from in a while; finding the cleaning wipes you love at the store; a beautiful sunset or sunrise; a good book; a sermon that resonates with you; a new song on the radio; a smile from a child; a nice meal a friend shares; hearing from a niece or a nephew; or a new book released by your favorite author.

There were at least a few days when I couldn’t stop listing things for which I was grateful. I recall one day when I filled seven cards before I stopped. 

This doesn’t mean that this year hasn’t been difficult: it has. As a mental health provider, I have seen firsthand the destruction brought on by this virus in numerous people’s lives. 

There were times, I literally wanted to sit down and cry for clients, friends, family, and even those I don’t know but heard their stories in the media. But even then, amidst the despair, I was able to uncover something to write down. 

What I learned is the more you focus on the good things, the more they seem to appear — and sometimes it takes a little more digging before we find it.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I hope you are able to count some blessings. 

If you are traveling, please remember to exercise caution, obey speed limits, watch for construction zones, wear your safety belts and, as always, please do not practice impaired driving.

* * *

If you or someone you know is in need of a coat for this winter, the annual Coats for the Cold distribution will take place this weekend at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology on Miller Ave. 

Pick up hours are from 4-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20; and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21.

A benefit for injured Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Green will be Saturday at the Cumberland County Community Complex. Green was injured in an off-duty fall several weeks ago and is still hospitalized.

Saturday’s events include an 8:30 a.m. 5K run/walk with the SWAT team, a chili contest, lunch and silent and live auctions.

If you are interested in participating or in donating an auction item, call the Sheriff’s Office at 484-931-6176 and ask for Chief Jerry Jackson or Debbie Sherrill.

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