Collecting my thoughts for this year’s Thanksgiving message, I wondered how could anyone be thankful for 2020, a year that, at best, inspired memes about how 2020 was the worst.
But then I remembered the first word in our name, GOOD.
I thought of Fred Rogers and his quote about what to do when the news turns scary: “Look for the helpers.”
And so, I’ll look for the GOOD.
I’m thankful for the helpers–the nurses, the doctors, the police officers and firefighters, the EMTs and paramedics. The people always called on to help, who helped more. And I’m thankful for their families, who stood in support, knowing that their loved ones were on a different kind of front line than ever before.
I’m thankful for the new frontline essential helpers–the people who work in supermarkets, in hardware stores, and in other businesses that couldn’t close. The people who work in support of the first responders–food service workers, hospital custodians and maintenance employees, nursing homes and senior living facilities, who weren’t used to putting their lives on the line the way they were asked to this year.
I’m thankful for teachers, who needed to pivot and in a matter of days and weeks make career-changing alterations that typically take years to learn in normal times. Who despite their fears and often ill-equipped resources, persisted to reach their students online and stepped back into classrooms not knowing what new risks doing so might bring.
I’m thankful for technology, and the privilege of being able to access it with hardware and bandwidth. I took it for granted until it became a lifeline for connection with friends, family, coworkers, and we adapted to using it in countless new ways–celebrating life events, holding meetings, sipping online cocktails, celebrating the arts, attending classes, and more.
I’m thankful for creative people who learned how to harness and use that technology to make isolation a little less isolating. To bring us performances, fundraisers, classes, town meetings, museum tours, crafting lessons, exercise, personal shopping, and countless new outlets.
I’m thankful for science, for scientists working at a breakneck pace to try and come up with a vaccine. For smart people who are learning what they can as quickly as they can about a threat they’d never anticipated to prevent more lives from being lost.
I’m thankful for masks, and people who wear them. I’m thankful for people who understand that even the smallest actions they take will impact a wider world around them, and that they bear a responsibility to the greater good, and that doing so will save lives.
I’m thankful for volunteers, and for a community that I’ve always defined as one that will step up without question when someone is in need–and which stepped up in exponentially bigger ways than ever before, making masks, sharing resources, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed frontline workers and their neighbors in need.
I’m thankful for a community that stepped up to have difficult conversations around race, diversity, inclusion, acceptance.
I’m thankful for election workers and town employees, who made sure despite the challenges involved in voting which required collective behaviors, that we could safely fulfill actions most central to our democracy.
I’m thankful for family time. For puzzles and more time spent outdoors. I saw more kids and families riding bicycles this year than I’ve seen in the over 13 years I’ve lived in Wilton. We discovered new trails and scenic spots and activities to do as a family, and had deeper and better conversations than I can remember.
I’m thankful for birthday parades. Especially those that surprise teenagers who are at first embarrassed but later share they were secretly grateful for the fun.
I’m thankful for a town that lined the streets to celebrate graduates.
I’m thankful that the power is on, that the trees are standing, that the powerlines are just where they are supposed to be.
I’m thankful we saw demonstrable evidence of cleaner environments. Fewer cars on the road, fewer airplanes in the air, less need to run the things that filled the air and water with pollutants and showed we can do more to stave off the damage we do to the earth.
I’m thankful that pet shelters were emptied and more people learned the benefits of adopting four-legged friends. (And I’m thankful the downtime let a group of Wilton neighbors advance the hope of a dog park a little further than ever before.)
I’m thankful for town officials working tirelessly to protect us. I’m thankful for town employees working to make sure life marches forward no matter what.
I’m thankful for toilet paper and supply chains that are getting back to normal-ish.
I’m thankful for online communities that sprung up or were strengthened (like the network of Wilton’s working moms). We shared more information and virtual assistance with one another, and offered support in the form of humor and compassion.
I’m thankful for our real community, the local business owners and neighbors, the familiar faces and patterns and events that I took for granted. Not being able to access them has taught us how important it is to consciously support the members of our community to make sure they’ll continue to be here for the long haul.
I’m thankful for being able to witness, experience and teach my children resiliency. Living in a community and an era where they’ve been fortunate have more than they need, this year presented the opportunity for them to develop better coping skills and learn how to find fortitude in trying times–and to appreciate all that they do have while perhaps learning new priorities.
I’m thankful for a job I love, for having a mission to pursue truth and share the correct information, and for understanding the part it plays in making Wilton stronger.
I’m thankful for GMW writers who help support that mission with their talent. I’m thankful for readers who let us know they value the information we provide. And I’m thankful for advertisers and members who, with their financial support, make it possible for us to continue.
I’m thankful for my extended family. I miss my parents–I’ve been able to see them from a distance and on Zoom, but I want to hug them and I am thankful for whatever means allow me to savor time with them.
I’m thankful for my husband and my children, for our health and that we can be together.
I’m grateful for what we have, knowing we live in a time of profound loss; that I’ve discovered I need less and can be satisfied with treasuring what I already have.
And I’m thankful for 2020, for providing me the way to realize all of what I’m grateful for.
With gratitude, and wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving,
Heather Borden Herve
Editor/Publisher, GOOD Morning Wilton