You know those people on social media who come across as so braggadocious? I’m sure many don’t mean to be, and I’ve probably been guilty of it myself. But that’s what I want to avoid as I sit down to write about what I’m thankful for in 2020.
When COVID-19 hit the U.S. earlier this year, I got down. Really, really down. Not for myself — my life didn’t change much due to the pandemic. But I could not turn away from the countless stories of loved ones lost forever, businesses closed for good, and people lined up for miles needing food pantry bundles for the first time in their lives.
I tried to focus on what I was thankful for in order to get a grip. I thanked God for my loved ones, being employed, having groceries and a warm place to live. But I don’t want to write about that. Because too many are missing those things right now. They don’t need to hear it.
I also tried to look for any piece of silver lining that I could find in the devastation. While many pointed to the huge profits Amazon, Walmart, and other online retailers saw amid lockdown conditions, I was quietly grateful that some companies had the infrastructure for enormous delivery services in the first place. But that’s little consolation with brick and mortar stores being shuttered. The trade-off isn’t fair.
Already struggling local establishments in my town were hit with further crackdowns from the local health department recently. On Facebook, I saw video of a married couple I know insisting their business was in compliance and pleading with officials to not shut down their only source of income for feeding their family after the police were called over an alleged violation of social distancing in their bar. The couple’s other restaurant had closed months before due to slow business.
The footage brought me to tears. I felt helpless and furious watching it, not thankful that I wasn’t in their shoes.
When I think of that couple and the countless others who lost part or all of their livelihoods this year, I don’t want to talk about what I’m grateful for. I’d like to offer hope, but as lockdowns drag on and ramp up, it’s tough to point to what I have when I see what others have had stripped away ahead of what is likely the most difficult holiday season in their lives.
Please support local businesses and give more to people in need this year, if you are able. Those hurt most by this pandemic need actions more than words.