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  • Writer's pictureEric Spitz

Five Things I'm Thankful for in 2020

I think it's safe to assume that 2020 hasn't gone how anyone envisioned it would. This past weekend would have normally been spent in Ludington for me, celebrating Friendsgiving with some of my closest friends that I'm only able to see once a year. Thanksgiving day would have been spent doing the Lansing Turkey Trot downtown. COVID-19 has been a very obvious and frequently discussed subject of the year, and has altered the plans and lives of everyone. As confirmed cases and the death toll continues to rise, the inner circles of friends and family have been infiltrated for practically everyone. Anyone who may have thought the virus was a hoax has more than likely been getting a very harsh reality check in terms of how widespread it's become.

With a heavy weight of sadness and uncertainty still looming this year, we need hope and positivity more than ever. It's hard to place "good" and "2020" within the same sentence, but like with any trying time, it offers tremendous opportunity for growth. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I felt the need to write in spirit of the holiday, and outline five things I'm thankful for in 2020.

My Health

This is generally an area I admittingly take for granted, but this year has really made me more humble. As of the time I'm writing this, I have several friends who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are working on recovering. Two days ago, I lost my great uncle Arnie to the virus. A week before that, my cousin Karen's father-in-law. A kind and devoted member of my church has her cousin, her brother, and spouse, along with their daughter and boyfriend all battling the disease and asking for relief and prayers for her family. She also lost another cousin to COVID just last Monday. This virus has become so widespread that it's hit close to home for practically everyone. Despite spending most of my time at home, my health could still change in an instant, so I remain grateful that I've made it this far with no looming ailments.

My Job

I'm guilty of complaining about trivial things concerning my job. Whether that be work processes that don't make sense to me, conflicting viewpoints with co-workers, or just general stress from external circumstances, but at the end of the day I remain extremely grateful for it. While the company I work for is considered essential, I haven't had any gaps with employment since the pandemic first started. However, I've been blessed with the luxury of being able to work safely from the comfort of my own home, which isn't something the front-line essential workers can say. I often feel guilty for how fortunate I am to not have to worry about my next paycheck, or of being exposed to an individual who tested positive while simply trying to do my job. However, the weight of the emotions brought on this year, has been heavy enough as it is, so rather than feeling guilt for being in a position where I'm still able to pay my bills without leaving the house, I choose to remain grateful and appreciative of how lucky I am in that regard.

New Hobbies

Since I've spent more time at home than ever before, I've been finding creative ways to occupy my time. I've been reading consistently. I've watched more films this year than ever before. I've been writing more consistently, and have been teaching myself French daily. I've been discovering new podcasts, getting more involved with politics, signing petitions for causes I believe in. That's not to say that everyone should feel the need to be productive during this uncertain and dreadful time. Coming from someone who's constantly anxious about situations they've conjured in their own head, any day being spent doing something constructive other than sleeping away reality is a victory in my book. I still certainly have my days of feeling hopeless where I do absolutely nothing, but as a whole I'm proud of the steps I've made on making the best use of my time.

My Support System

Over the past week I've been seeing an abundance of posts on Facebook being shared asking for friends to comment something positive they love about that user. I couldn't help myself but hop on the bandwagon with them, and I was pleasantly surprised by the wide array of people who interacted with that post with nice things to say. Some of these people I haven't talked to in years. It was certainly refreshing to see that amount of positivity being shared on social media rather than the us versus them driven political posts that simply get exhausting after awhile.

My Opportunities

This idea is a combination of everything I've mentioned before, but that doesn't make it any less important. With a roof over my head, a steady job and minimal anxiety surrounding how I'm going to pay my bills or stay safe during a national pandemic, my basic needs are fully met. I'm very blessed to have the things that I do during a time of such uncertainty, and I try my best to remind myself of how lucky I am every day. With my basic needs met, I've been trying to pay it forward whenever I see an opportunity to lend a hand. Whether that's being more active in my church by helping with youth events over Zoom, offering friends advice/support on social media, or even just checking in on friends in general. My plans for the year may be drastically different than I originally drew them up, but I recognize that opportunities still exist for me every day to both better myself and the people around me.

Leave a comment below with what you're most thankful for this year.

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