17 Things I’m Grateful for in a Terrible Year
To say 2020 has been a tough year is an understatement like no other. We’ve seen our lives completely upended by a global pandemic. We’ve faced civil unrest, endured daily uncertainty, and – for many of us – lost loved ones, businesses or jobs.
However, even in the midst of tragedy and uncertainty, there are things to be grateful for in 2020. While I would never want to minimize the devastation and struggles that so many of us have faced this year, there’s value in taking a break from the constant onslaught of terrible news to focus on the positive.
Expressing gratitude has been shown to increase our levels of happiness (source). When we focus on the positive instead of the negative we – no surprise – find more to be positive about. So in the interest of spreading some much-needed positivity, here are 17 things I’m grateful for in 2020.
17 Things I’m Grateful for in 2020
1. Frontline workers. It goes without saying that frontline workers deserve the number one spot on this list. While my personal contribution to the pandemic can be summed up as “stay home, stay safe”, our frontline workers have been working tirelessly – at enormous personal expense – to keep us safe and to keep essential services running. I’m grateful to our healthcare workers, teachers, delivery drivers, first responders, childcare workers, grocery store workers, truck drivers, and all of those putting their personal safety on the line every single day.
2. Technology. We’re all a little Zoom-ed out at this point, but I’m thankful that this forced isolation happened during a time when we have so many ways to connect virtually.
3. Working from home. Like so many of us, my job shifted to working from home earlier this year. Although it has its challenges, I’m grateful for no commute, for the natural light by my desk, and for the freedom to wear comfortable clothes and no makeup. I appreciate the flexibility to better integrate my work with the rest of my life, and have a love/hate relationship with working so close to my own kitchen. Perhaps most importantly, I know how lucky I am to have a job, and one I can do safely from home.
4. Disney+. If this pandemic had happened even one year earlier, we wouldn’t have had Disney+ to help us through. Terrifying.
5. Sense of community. While it may be strained these days, let’s not forget that the early days of the pandemic brought us together like never before. Whether we were singing from our balconies, banging pots and pans at 7:00 p.m., or displaying messages of love and support for our frontline workers, it was heartwarming to see all of us come together to unite for a common cause.
6. Small indulgences. This year has taught me to appreciate the little things – like my daily homemade lattes that I never had time for before the pandemic.
7. Curbside pickup. The widespread rollout of curbside pickup may be one of my favourite things to come out of the pandemic. I only wish this had been a thing when my children were tiny!
8. Creativity. I’m grateful to folks much more creative than me who have come up with ingenious ways to cope with the pandemic. Drive-by birthday parties, candy chutes at Halloween, and a whole host of imaginative online events – just to name a few.
9. Boredom. On a related note, I’m grateful that boredom sparked a newfound creativity in my kids. I joke that it took 6 weeks of sheer boredom for them to develop the ability to play independently, but the truth is they’ve had unscheduled time like never before, and have been forced to find ways to fill it.
10. Masks. While I will happily celebrate the day that masks are no longer required, masks aren’t all bad. I appreciate the fact that they conceal how little makeup I’m wearing these days, help keep me warm during early morning school runs, and allow me to shop incognito.
11. Getting outside. For so much of 2020, we’ve been restricted in what we can do indoors. As a result, our family has spent more time outside than ever before. Hikes, bike rides, camping, socially distanced get-togethers – I hope we continue to embrace outside activities even when we’re able to gather inside again.
12. Time with my family. SO.MUCH.TIME. As a working mom, I’ve always struggled with feeling guilty for not spending as much time with my kids as I’d like. That was definitely not the case this year!
13. Noise blocking technology. I’m grateful for my husband’s hearing protection which I wear – no joke – every single day, to drown out the noise of my children when I’m trying to work.
14. Slower schedules. At the beginning of this year, I wrote that I was done over-committing to jam-packed schedules. This isn’t how I planned to go about it, but I appreciate the downtime all the same. I hope we can carry this forward as we go back to “normal” and critically evaluate which activities we want to recommit to.
15. Weekend sleep-ins. On a similar note, now that we’re not rushing out the door for kids’ activities, I’m loving our slow weekend mornings. With nowhere to go, and nothing but time ahead of us, we’re enjoying leisurely mornings and – when the kids let us – the occasional sleep-in.
16. Vaccines. I’m grateful for modern science, and the work of our scientists and medical experts, who are on the cusp of giving us a path out of this.
17. Health. Finally, I cannot make a list of things I’m grateful for in 2020 without mentioning health. Every day that I remain healthy, and my friends and family remain healthy, is something to be thankful for this year.
What about you? In this crazy, terrible year what have you found to be grateful for?