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Thanksgiving 2021 — Do We Have a Reason to be Thankful This Year?

Posted on: November 4th, 2021 by Jackie Siegal, LCSW

As we are in the midst of planning for Thanksgiving 2021 and trying to figure out its details and logistics for the second Thanksgiving holiday during a pandemic, it seems like a good time to pause and think about what we are thankful for, or if we should even be thankful at all?

2021 has certainly been a year of continued hardships and unanswered questions, and we will likely continue to feel its effects through the end of the year. The pandemic brought with it great uncertainty, fear and anxiety. It has had social, educational, economic, and political repercussions just to name a few. Many students cannot attend in-person school without masks or social distancing, work life has become somewhat digitized, people cannot make social connections the way they used to, patients predominantly see their therapists on zoom, friends need to find innovative ways to connect, families have had less contact with grandparents, and hugs and handshakes have become a relic of another time.

Celebrating Thanksgiving amid the Pandemic

At this Thanksgiving 2021, while we are still in the midst of the pandemic, whether one sits at a table of ten, or a table of one, we all have the luxury to have the time to think, breathe, slow down and be more mindful. Not only about the past, but also about the present and what we want our lives to look like in the future. What have we learned about ourselves in the last year and a half? What kind of lifestyle do we really want in the future? What relationships can we develop and maintain that will make us happier? Or are there some relationships that we want to disengage from that have held us back? We now have more time to be mindful of our own feelings and emotions and of those around us, we have more time to be grateful for little things that may have gone unnoticed, we have more time to spend with those we love, and we may also have more time to give of ourselves to those that are less fortunate.

So, on this still uncertain holiday, amidst our personal contemplation, let us be thankful for science and the extraordinary scientific research and success of the COVID 19 vaccine and the fact that in our country the vaccines are widely available. Let us be grateful for all the responsible citizens that have taken the vaccine thus ensuring their own health and the health of their families, neighbors and community at large. Unlike last Thanksgiving, the vaccines have given us a layer of protection and safety. After 18 months under the dark cloud of the pandemic, this Thanksgiving we should be able to celebrate in a safe way, albeit in small groups, outdoors or in well aired environments, but still with the possibility of engaging once again face to face. So the ingredient to be added to this Thanksgiving recipe, unlike last year, is a feeling of optimism, of hope due to science and community.

But let us remember that this pandemic year has given us the luxury of having time to pause. So, on this still uncertain Thanksgiving holiday, let us be thankful for this gift of time, listen to our inner voice and be more in tune to our spiritual needs and desires to enable us to move forward post-pandemic. If this time of contemplation does not bring you satisfaction and to a positive reevaluation of your needs, then, maybe it is the right time to speak to a professional therapist to help you navigate and find more clarity. The “time” we have had to think about what those things really are, is what ultimately we must be very grateful for on this 2021 Thanksgiving day.