57 Things I’m Grateful For in 2020

Dec 16, 2020 | Gratitude & Other Reflections, Writing

I was going to pass this one by. I mean, it’s too tempting just to say, “I’m grateful for everything that didn’t suck in 2020” and have done with it. And I don’t want to sound like I’m giving some Academy Award speech – “Cram it into two minutes, be sure you don’t forget anyone or anything important, then shut up and get off the stage when you hear the music playing” – but I really would hate to leave anyone or anything out. This is why people keep “Gratitude Journals,” isn’t it? So they’re not left stressing over their sins of omission in December?

All right, here goes – not an exhaustive or prioritized list, by any means, but I am not older than Methuselah and this is supposed to be “one for every year you’ve been alive.” Or, to catch up – “Holly’s Hindsight 57.”  I am thankful for:

  1. My husband: I married well and wisely, 36 years ago – and that the man is still taking care of me and putting up with my nonsense to this day. Mostly with a sense of humor.
  2. My daughter and my son: healthy young adults that I am exceedingly proud of; I am grateful that I got to be their mom.
  3. My grandson: our whole family is so lucky to have him in it.
  4. My dad and my mother in law: that they are still active, healthy, happy, independent, and make growing older look not-so-scary after all.
  5. My extended family: two brothers, a sister, and cousins – some by birth and most by marriage, but it just seems too wordy to keep tacking on “in law” after all these years – they are “by choice” and “in heart.”
  6. Early retirement: despite the pandemic screwing up most of my grand plans, it has been fun – and I do try hard to remember how annoying it was, when I was still working, and my dad would say things like, “Every day is Saturday!” I try. I don’t always succeed.
  7. Good health: something we should all appreciate with heightened awareness, in 2020.
  8. People who care about strangers enough to sacrifice their own comfort and freedoms – e.g., wearing masks, sharing/donating to non-profits, continuing to work to keep essential services going). Postal workers, trash collectors, grocery store workers, and cleaning services are high on this list.
  9. Healthcare workers – from the doctors and nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the medical equipment repair people, the housekeeping and administrative staffers, everyone in the supply chain, and researchers who’ve worked overtime to bring us accurate diagnostic tests and the hope of a vaccine in record time.
  10. Ample food and fresh drinking water.
  11. Toilet paper (and my husband’s foresight in stocking up on things before a pandemic, not during!)
  12. Soap.
  13. People who sew.
  14. Good, escapist fiction. And the fact that, once you make reading it a regular routine, the habit quickly returns. So, surprisingly, do dreams. Not daydreams – but real dreams that liven up a good night’s sleep.
  15. Technology that has kept us in touch with each other: (even, @#$%) Facebook and Twitter; (especially) Zoom; Slack; email; messaging apps.
  16. PeoplesHost: my web hosting company, for being supportive, affordable, easy to negotiate with (and working hard NOT to claim the rights to my writing). Also, for not only providing support but for explaining what they did so that (if possible) I can do it myself next time – IF I want to. If you’re looking for excellent web hosting, click the name – it’s an affiliate link, but doesn’t cost you extra. I highly recommend PeoplesHost.
  17. Medium.com: writing here has provided me a creative outlet and even though I only earn about $1/day writing there, it has been fun and has covered the expenses of running this website. Since last December, I have written 170 stories, articles, and poems over there.
  18. Amazon and Kindle: I never have to venture out to shop or find something good to read. Even as I am grateful, I feel guilty – support local small businesses and independent bookstores!
  19. Toastmasters and the organization’s flexibility: When the pandemic hit, Toastmasters.org, District 56 (Houston area), and the local clubs I belong to (Cy-Fair Super Speakers and bToasty) pivoted on a dime to implement remote meetings, contests, and conferences, and to adapt to not only helping members develop their public speaking skills, but also help those who were new to remote working, learning, and socializing get comfortable with their technology and become more effective online presenters. Use the Find a Club feature to locate a Toastmasters club near you (or drop in one one that’s currently meeting online – maybe half a world away – if you’ve missed out on traveling, this year). It’s free to guests, so feel free to attend and see if it’s something you’d enjoy.
  20. Baking and cooking “therapy.”
  21. Loose-fitting lounge pants and not having to wear anything dressier!
  22. Resilient restaurants and food-delivery services: “date night” didn’t have to be canceled once, during lockdowns! (Always be sure to tip your driver as well or better than you would your waiter!)
  23. Readers who rate and review the books they read.
  24. Readers who leave conversational comments on blogs!
  25. Readers.
  26. Good handwriting. I need to use it more.
  27. Affordable hardware and software that meet my needs, and access to the Internet and mobile service. So many of us take this for granted, yet so many are without these things that are truly essential during a pandemic.
  28. Access to public parks and walking trails.
  29. A comfortable home.
  30. Good climate. Yeah, we all gripe about Houston heat and humidity, but it beats the ovens of Arizona and the biting chill of Alaska, and I can’t think of too many places I’m desperate to trade it for.
  31. Salt: I could sooner live without sugar. You know how deer need salt licks? It’s like that. But don’t call me “Dear.”
  32. Chocolate. And not having to choose between sugar and salt. Diversity in all things is a good thing.
  33. Friends who “get” me, and can tell when I’m being flippant and playful (and play along) and when I’m being serious (and take me seriously). It’s a gift. Introvert that I am, I call most of them “astute readers.”
  34. Music. Though according to Spotify, I really need to build some new playlists soon, or at least randomly shuffle the songs on them. I think my ears were in a rut, just like the rest of the world in 2020.
  35. William Ian Millar for not telling me to “bugger off” all the times I begged him to sing me The Unicorn, and for playing The Orange and The Green for me during one of his Facebook Live performances!
  36. No cavities, no cancer, and no corneal erosions!
  37. Security cameras that mostly just get to function as wildlife cameras, and the entertaining squirrels, possum, cats, spiders, and anoles who star on them!
  38. A car that works. With a new battery that works. Shutdown plays hell on your car battery. Go drive your car around a while – gas is cheap and a new car battery is not.
  39. Flu shots (much as I despise needles) and Brenda, at the local CVS, who manages to give them painlessly.
  40. COVID vaccines hastening across the country and the world. I’m not sure life will ever quite get back to “normal” but that’s okay. This will help.
  41. Biden-Harris, and supremely qualified cabinet nominees.
  42. A Supreme Court that, despite our worst fears, did not forget all they’d ever learned in Constitutional Law.
  43. A revitalized Space exploration program.
  44. My fellow writers – especially the ones who manage to stay engaged, productive, supportive, and encouraging while also being well-rounded humans and allowing me to be the same. That is, we do other things besides write, and care that the others are succeeding at those as well, or at least muddling through this strange year with hearts, brains, and body intact.
  45. Ample art supplies.
  46. Spicy peppers.
  47. The fact that I have managed to keep (most of) the plants in my gardens – both indoors and out – alive. This is kind of a big deal for me.
  48. Having had our shower remodeled last year, so that I can stand under a hot cascade of water and pretend that I am at a swanky resort spa. For glass blocks that let in sparkling sunlight but shield me from the neighbors’ gaze (I’m sure they’re grateful to have their gaze shielded from my nekkid body, too!)
  49. Moderators on social media who do their job well, despite criticism and abuse. Granted, there are far too few and I don’t know many personally, but they are out there – and they are much needed.
  50. Cybersecurity experts and law enforcement that swiftly shuts down fraud and other malicious bad actors on the Internet.
  51. Empathetic, competent humans who work in customer support, anywhere in the world. You are a rare and underappreciated breed, and don’t get thanked half as much as you get bitched at – but I am thankful for you.
  52. Companies that use IVR call-back “keep your place in line” systems and don’t make me talk to a f***ing machine.
  53. Principled investigators, lawyers, and judges who do their jobs with enthusiasm, diligence, and strong ethics. May your efforts at rooting out corruption and defeating monopolistic corporate endeavors be successful and just.
  54. Anti-racists. Not colorblind people, but people who are committed to ending discriminatory nonsense in whatever forms they find it, wherever it exists.
  55. Rainbows. Especially wide, iridescent, shimmering displays of color in a lightning-streaked sky at dusk, and full double-rainbows in sunshine. And that indescribable change of light that indicates I’m right in the midst of a rainbow. This is the “gold” at the end of the rainbow, and if you’ve ever experienced it, you sense that fleeting, precious moment.
  56. Teachers and daycare workers who have figured out how best to serve students and juggle the needs of their own families on a moment’s notice, and the working parents who have figured out how to partner with their children’s teachers while juggling their own jobs, responsibilities, and worries. These children are our future. They can catch up on the learning, but only if they and their parents and their teachers survive the pandemic.
  57. Hope. Near the start of the pandemic, I used a COVID app – not a contact tracing app, but one that tracked symptoms. They added a “mood tracker,” and I realized my moods had all but flatlined. I felt nothing. Not anxiety, not worry, not sadness, not depression – but not joy, optimism, or most frighteningly, hope, either. I even Googled “loss of affect” and worried, briefly, that I might have early onset Alzheimer’s. Disturbingly, I didn’t care. But hope has slowly, quietly crept back in. And I am grateful for that.
Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.

18 Comments

  1. Mitchell Allen

    While your whole list rocks with vitality and personal flavor, I especially like #6 and #21. I’m grateful for knowing you!

    Cheers,

    Mitch
    Mitchell Allen recently posted…Brain ManMy Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      😀 So do I! Those are special favorites of mine, as well. As are you – I’m glad we’re friends!

      Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Did I mention that your story, “Brain Man,” reminds me a bit of Flannery O’Conner’s “Good Country People”?

      Reply
      • Mitchell Allen

        If I remember correctly, you mentioned it on CCC. Nope…I checked. LOL However, for some reason that title sounds familiar!

        Reply
          • Mitchell Allen

            Thank you. I added it to my reading list. I love how you share some of the coolest links on the Web! Do you remember the titles and Google them up, or do you maintain a repository? (I’m thinking of all the silly YouTube videos you’ve shared this year.)

            Cheers,

            Mitch
            Mitchell Allen recently posted…Brain ManMy Profile

          • Holly Jahangiri

            I mostly just remember and Google them. What would I do without Google as my second brain? I hate single-sourcing, and I’m not content with Bing or DuckDuckGo as sole substitutes for Google, even as I cheer the current anti-trust efforts against them. I love Google, but I do wish they had stuck to their original motto of “Don’t be evil.”

            I also love the “site: ” search function. Have to use it on my own sites often. (It’s very helpful when I can’t remember if I stuffed a thing under 2013, 2017, or 2020!)

            I’m glad that you enjoy my silly links, Mitchell. And tell me WHY I had to fish your comment out of the moat, and am only just NOW seeing this, with two others having no problems AFTER it!?

  2. Unishta

    I loved reading this delightful gratitude post that doesn’t sound like an acceptance speech . This year has been peculiar from beginning to end . I really think hope is the only thing that keeps us going !

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      If hope were all that kept me going, I’d be dead now. Substitute oxygen and stubbornness, and a husband who wouldn’t let me roll myself up like a burrito in my comfy blanket and sleep away the past 9 months, for hope, and you wouldn’t be too far off. 🙂 My next post will have a few “lessons learned” and insights from this “peculiar” year, and while it was far from rotten, on balance, I think I’d like a little more notice before the next pandemic and a little reminder to do all the things I still COULD do, rather than putting life into a holding pattern. Because if I’m honest, it’s felt a bit like circling O’Hare airport during the holidays – on infinite loop.

      Reply
  3. Esha

    Such a wonderful list to read from you, Holly! Your writing, generously laced with humour is always a treat. And yes, I do agree, like you said, there are so many things to be grateful for, even though 2020 has been a year that has taken so much out of us. Let’s hope and pray that as we welcome 2021, we do it with more wisdom, caution and resilience.

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      What a kind thing to say, Esha! Thank you. I sometimes wish I could be “funny on command.” The humor comes out of my fingertips like a little imp, sometimes. It’s never planned in advance, but I guess reflects something ingrained in my world view. My motto is, if you can choose between laughter and tears, always – ALWAYS – choose laughter. Because no matter what’s wrong, tears only give you a stuffy nose to add insult to injury.

      I’m glad you get what I was saying about 2020. Kiss it and let it go. No point in holding a grudge. Smile and greet the new year with sober, cautious optimism – give it a fair chance, and don’t expect it to live up to all our highest hopes. It’s taken a few years to get where we are, and it’ll take a few to heal fully, I think. Pray that we remember the cautionary tales, as we seem to have a very short collective memory for history and its consequences.

      Reply
  4. Corinne Rodrigues

    As usual, you rocked this one, Holly. It made me nod and smile and then laugh out loud!
    So glad that you’re enjoying your retirement. Your list is so ‘you’! I’m grateful for you!♥
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…55 Things I’m Grateful ForMy Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Thank you, Corinne! I’m glad you enjoyed this. I had fun writing it, and that’s usually what happens when I let my inner me come out to play. I’m guessing that makes sense to you – not sure how much sense it actually makes to someone who doesn’t write. There’s the bland, buttoned-up, formal, corporate me – and then there’s that imp that sometimes gets suppressed in the name of polished professionalism. It’s all honest, isn’t it – but the polished voice doesn’t dig deep and occasionally nick bone. I’m sure that sounds very un-fun to a non-writer, too, but there’s something satisfying about it, isn’t there? About knowing that, like a singer, you hit the note and it’s all clear and simple, even if you’ve run up and down the scale like a squirrel hopping two or three branches at a time. There are habits to be broken and habits to be formed.

      Thank you for being my friend, and for being a kindred spirit. Here’s to a happy and fruitful 2021. Here’s to managing our expectations of it, but also to noticing all that is good and right in the world, and allowing ourselves to be delighted by it now and then.

      Reply
  5. Sunita Saldhana

    What an exhaustive list! I love the one about the rainbow and the camera’s capturing the wildlife.

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Exhaustive? Wait till I’m 90. Or will that just be exhausting? I’m glad you enjoyed it, Sunita! So – did the Bouncer make you comfortable? Bring you tea and Christmas cookies?

      Reply

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