There's nothing to be grateful for this year. Or is there?

by Jordan Green

There’s nothing to be grateful for this year.

Do you believe that?

2021 was supposed to be the year we end the pandemic, the year we rebuild our economy and the year we find unity in America. None of that has happened. Hard to think about that at Thanksgiving, a time when we’re supposed to show our gratitude for all of the wonderful things that have happened to us in the year.

Many folks probably think they have nothing to offer gratitude for. Are you one of them?

Think for a moment about how easy it’d be to say there’s nothing to appreciate this year. Yes, it’s easier to list everything that hasn’t gone right compared to what has. But maybe, just maybe, there’s something to be thankful for on that very list.

Maybe it’s hard to find something in our lives that is innately and totally positive.

Instead, maybe we need to retrain our brains to search for something positive in the midst of something negative. Let’s start with the pandemic.

Maybe we can be thankful that, even though the pandemic isn’t over, it’s not worse.

I say this cautiously. Yes, we’ve lost so many people, and even more have fallen ill from this terrible sickness. But let’s be thankful that more haven’t. Then there’s our economy. Gas prices are soaring. Food prices are rising. And some of our favorite businesses have closed. People have lost their jobs. It seems like there’s nothing going right.

Maybe we can be thankful that our economy hasn’t completely shut down.

Yes, it’s in bad shape, and we know the path ahead is uncertain. But for the most part, we can still get to stores and buy food. Sadly, that’s more than many across the globe can say. The fact that we can still survive in America, even if we’re not thriving, is something to be thankful for.

Now what about our little bitty corner of the world, Blackwell?

Blackwell isn’t the town it used to be. Even from the time I was a child, I’ve seen businesses close and people move away. I’ve seen our streets fall into disrepair and our water lines burst. I’ve seen our schools lose talented teachers. But we’ve still got a lot of great businesses here.

We don’t have nearly as many restaurants as we used to, but we’ve still got some wonderful mom-and-pop shops. We’ve still got some loving, caring folks in this town. We’ve even gotten some street repairs and new water lines. And as a product of our schools, I know we still have some dedicated, compassionate teachers who want our students to succeed.

And finally, what about our families?

Some folks who are reading this may come from broken families. Some may not have many or any, living relatives left. I must say, I don’t personally know what that experience is like. But my heart goes out to those of you who know this feeling, and I say this: Anyone and everyone can find new family members, whether related by blood or not.

Some of my best “family” members are found nowhere in my family tree. They started out as folks I met by chance, then they became my friends, and then they became my family. You can have that, too. And if nothing else, be thankful for the opportunity to meet those people. If you’ll have that outlook, chances are you’ll have a better time finding them.

Now, I must admit that much of what I’ve said so far has been kind of abstract. So here’s something specific I’m grateful for this year: You! You, my reader and friend. If you’ve stuck with me this long, chances are you’ve done it before.

Without your support, my work wouldn’t be possible, and I wouldn’t have a job I love with all my heart. Today and every day, I’m thankful for you. Thanks for what you do. If nothing else, Folks, you can be thankful that you’ve got another day on this Earth. I’m thankful that you do, too.

Finding something to be positive about can be challenging, both in Blackwell and across our nation. It may take some digging. But it can be done.

This Thanksgiving, retrain your brain and look for sweet things in dark places.

If you try, you’ll find them. Is there really nothing to be grateful for this year? By no means! There are so many wonderful things to be grateful for – and you’re one of them. God bless you all, and Happy Thanksgiving!