Thursday was Thanksgiving. I spent it with my family, my brother’s family, and my parents. We didn’t do it last year, so this year’s get-together was all the more special. We overate, watched a little football, and generally enjoyed each other’s company.
As the year winds down, we generally celebrate with turkey and all the rest, knowing full well we are about to drive headlong into the Christmas season. We’ve been playing Hallmark Christmas movies non-stop since before Halloween. While we don’t have all of our trees (yes, plural trees) up yet, several of our house decorations are out, and several houses in our neighborhood have also put up their lights. It is joyous.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a stickler for actually being thankful this time of year. It’s good to pause and reflect on all the things to be thankful, grateful, and pleased with over the year.
So, without further musings, here are the things I’m thankful for in November 2021.
I’m thankful for science creating the COVID vaccines.
My family is part of the group considered immunocompromised, so we did not hesitate when we found ourselves in the group who could get the two-shot Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. If you are just flying in from The Large Magellanic Cloud and missed out on the news, there is a virus out there that is incredibly dangerous, highly contagious and has killed far too many people. The vaccine (and the booster shot) is an extra layer of protection against that nasty death thing. With the vaccine, my family and I are less worried about a fatal infection or hospitalization. Everyone in my family, my brother’s family, and my parents got vaccinated as soon as they were able. Some of them even got their booster shot already.
The vaccine is a prime example of what science does best, and it did it in, ahem, warp-speed fashion. I’m eternally thankful my family is now more protected from this deadly disease. COVID-19 transmission, hospital stays, and deaths are now squarely in the realm of those who are politically motivated to be willfully ignorant. I’m done even thinking about having a persuasive conversation with these people, and I try to avoid them at all costs because who knows if any of them are carriers of this damn viral infection? If you aren’t wearing a mask in public, even with the vaccine, I avoid you because my life and the life of my loved ones depend on it.
I’m not going to harp on it all, but please get vaccinated if you are able. Someone will be thankful you took the shot.
I’m thankful we have a dog.
The only actual exercise I got was walking the family dog during the pandemic (technically, it is still going on, but you know what I mean). I do this practice three times a day: morning, noon, and night. It is one of my few responsibilities regarding the dog aside from filling his food and water bowls and letting him find the crook of my knee at night.
The dog continues to roll over and ask for belly rubs and every opportunity. I dutifully oblige. I give him loves, and he gives me loves right back. I do not deserve the love this dog provides me, but I’m thankful he loves me just the same.
When I’m anxious or upset, he is there immediately in my face letting me know it will be okay and that I’ve got you. He is the absolute best.
I’m thankful I got to see friends, go out to dinner, rock out at concerts, and cheer at sporting events.
I came home from a Florida vacation in March of 2020 and have never gone back into the office on a permanent scale. Throughout most of 2020 and half of 2021, I hardly left the house unless it was to get takeout, go to the grocery store, and walk the dog.
The whole working from home thing became a wonderful new experience that I’ve embraced and loved. I missed seeing co-workers in person, but the tradeoff is worth it. Really over that time frame, I didn’t see hardly anyone in person that wasn’t family or a neighbor. I visited my parents only a few times in that timeframe, and it was always outside in their garage. Going out to dinner was not happening. I missed going to concerts and sporting events.
Then a large portion of the population received a vaccination. My friends got vaccinated. My family got vaccinated. People I did not know got vaccinated. It was a wet hot American-vaccinated summer, and I enjoyed my newfound ability to not stupidly hurt my friends, family, or perfect strangers because we all got vaccinated. There were hugs.
My wife and I went out to dinner, and it was about as normal as could be. We met friends for dinner and drinks, and it felt like the before times. I’m thankful I was able to see my favorite band, KISS, play one of its last concerts ever and do it with a couple of my oldest and dearest friends (whom I also hugged).
I’m back to watching Illinois football and basketball in person. I might be wearing a mask to keep others safe, but I’m inside the stadiums cheering for my team.
The time away made me appreciate it even more, and now I don’t take it for granted. It’s exciting to see friends and family, you know? If we could just keep the COVID-19 positive cases down, we might actually fully return to a semblance of the pre-pandemic lifestyle, except for the going back to the office part. I hope I never have to go back.
I’m thankful our President is Joe Biden.
I am thankful I do not have to think about our national government and its leadership every day. And when I say “think,” I mean worry about whatever narcissistic, profoundly stupid, or illegal thing the old guy used to do on the daily. The soul-crushing, gut-wrenching days of old are gone. There are whole weeks when I don’t think about President Biden or Vice President Harris. It is refreshing after four years of crisis mode.
I wish he were a bit better. I wish justice were swifter. However, we are in good hands. So, thanks, Joe, for making it, so I don’t have to think about you. I think that’s the way it should be.
I’m thankful for the usual suspects.
I am forever thankful for my family, both immediate and extended. They are warm blankets on cold days. I am grateful I am working in an industry that has been thriving during the pandemic. I can work from home in the basement and do well enough that I don’t have to worry like, unfortunately, so many others. I have first-world problems, and I’m blessed beyond compare.
Lastly, I am thankful for my wife, who continually puts up with my utter and complete bullshit.
So, as we prepare to tell 2021 goodbye and welcome in 2022, these are a few of the things I’m thankful for this holiday season. As you are reading this, I hope you make your own thankful things list. You might even be surprised at all the things you have to be thankful for as well.