Yes, I know 2020 has been hell on wheels. 2020 itself has become analogous with bad things and is sort of a defacto swear word.
You just say, “2020” and everyone knows exactly what you mean.
Thankfully, it’s almost over! The year anyway.
Today, of all days, I want to share a different flavor message with you.
A Perspective of Hope and Gratitude
I’m writing this in a home with no twinkling Christmas tree, with no family members visiting, no grandchildren chattering, no crinkling of wrapping paper, and fewer family members than we began with this year.
And yes, I miss my family and the holiday festivities and traditions desperately – BUT – and this is huge….
You’re safe, or at least I hope you are.
I’m extremely, extremely fortunate to be in a house that IS safe.
In a location that IS safe.
I’m blessed to have the ability to stay home SAFE.
It’s not a violation of my rights, but a sacred privilege.
To have the luxury of making the safe decision to shelter at home is an opportunity denied to many.
I don’t have to face Covid and the possibility of getting infected myself in a hospital as a front-line medical worker. Or as an EMT, or public safety officer, grocery store worker or others who have no choice in the matter.
For many, it’s work or starve – literally – a choice they are also making for their other family members, including children.
Children in America with no food. Let that sink in for a minute.
Several of my family members, including my children and their spouses, don’t have the luxury of safety because of the nature of their jobs, and I’m desperately worried about them.
I’m not forced to face or deal with unmasked people risking the safety and very lives of others.
And while I’m unhappy and inconvenienced staying at home and missing out on the things I’d like to be doing – my level of frustration is extremely, extremely minor in the grand scheme of things. A minuscule tradeoff for the ability to protect myself and others, saving lives.
I’m not being evicted because I’ve lost my job and can’t pay my rent.
I have heat and water and light and food. My family members and pets have food too.
My Christmas tree isn’t put up because I didn’t feel festive – not because I lost it in an eviction or because I no longer have a home to put it in.
This year’s tree will simply have to be a Facebook memory of my tree from a happier time. Reflecting on the past that I took for granted, but certainly don’t now, hoping for the future, and simply trying to be grateful for what I have today.
Sometimes it takes misfortune to really bring the message of gratitude home.
My house did not burn to the ground, in the midst of a pandemic, like my friend’s house did.
My kids and grandkids aren’t suffering.
We are all staying safe, separately, together.
I have seen them in parking lots and on outdoor hikes a few times this year and we’ve made memories, nonetheless. Differently, than we would have preferred, but safely. Responsibly. No one risked the health of anyone else.
It’s not the best of circumstances – but it’s far, far from the worst.
I have multiple friends and family members who have died from and others who are severely debilitated by Covid.
And through all of this, I can’t help but think of my ancestors who died young, during plagues, of infections and situations now preventable or treatable, particularly with the advent of antibiotics in the era of modern medicine.
How blessed they would view our lives – given that we DO have the ability to understand the source of this plague and CAN do something about it. Simple things really, wearing masks, staying home, washing our hands, and soon, to take vaccines.
We can wage this war without marching off, killing others, and destroying the countryside. Although, ironically, Covid has now killed more people than Vietnam, Korea, and WWI, combined and is approaching the mortality of WWII – yet we don’t think of Covid as a war. Nonetheless, it is.
Instead of fighting in mortal combat, all we need to do is simply stay at home. It’s that simple. What our ancestors would have given for this opportunity.
Instead, they died. The church records tell their story, along with that of their entire village.
They died in childbirth, died of infections, died in wave after wave of pandemics such as the Black Death and recurring illnesses like typhoid and smallpox that wiped out one third to one half of the population, over and over again.
Many people were blamed for bringing these plagues into their villages by “witchcraft.”
Ignorance, too, is deadly in more ways than one.
Those who moved away from the homeland were truly alone, never seeing or talking to their family again. If you moved away and your family or spouse died – unless you could find someone else to marry quickly, especially if you were a woman, you too were relegated to destitution, poverty, and death.
Even in this current “worst of times,” we are so much better off than our ancestors. 2020 has certainly provided me with a different perspective of their world.
We have so much to be thankful for – beginning with the opportunity and means to keep ourselves safe. Such simple things, really.
I’m incredibly grateful for Skype, Zoom, Facetime, and other technologies that make being together, safely-distanced, possible. Apart doesn’t necessarily mean disconnected now.
These apps may even be responsible for encouraging some people to stay home that would have otherwise risked traveling, exposing and infecting themselves and others.
Yes, while 2020 has been “difficult,” to put it mildly, and the first half of 2021 will likely be even worse while Covid continues to spike, those of us who can stay home and stay safe until it’s our turn for that life-saving vaccine are indeed the blessed, even if we are the unhappy, complaining and sometimes ungrateful blessed.
Having Said That…
I want to share my heartfelt condolences and concern for those who:
- Have lost family members
- Are truly alone
- Aren’t safe
- Don’t have enough food
- Are suffering, either physically or mentally
Because there are many, many…so many.
We don’t necessarily know who they are, because sometimes suffering isn’t evident.
And sometimes, it is, especially if we are cognizant and look.
I hope we all take this time to reflect on others, notice their need, and reach out to help to relieve their suffering, as best we can.
- Drop off food. Safely, on porches.
- Reach out to say hello and convey that we care.
- Help with technology. My husband is coordinating Zoom calls for families.
- Provide supportive assistance to solve problems, such as suggesting and arranging for grocery or prescription pickup and delivery.
- Provide other types of assistance, safely.
- And the animals. Don’t forget the animals who are entirely dependent on people.
Additionally, we can contribute to organizations and reputable charities that work collectively to assist people in need. Food banks come to mind right now.
My “gifts” this year, with the exception of small things delivered by no-contact “porch Santas” to family members have all been in the form of donations of one flavor or another to assist those not so fortunate.
Light, Prayer, Hope
It is for all of us that I walk in the labyrinth this winter solstice – the longest, darkest day of the year, carrying this single candle of light.
Hope for the future
For light in our life
For brighter days
For all of us, collectively