By Holly Parod, LSCW – September 9, 2020 –

In the wake of an unprecedented worldwide pandemic, many of us have felt the weight of additional stress and uncertainty in our daily lives. These are feelings that we can unknowingly pass on to our children as they sense our fear and feelings of worry.

Rather than watching the national news or discussing headlines in the local paper, what if we all took time to be grateful for the new world we have discovered as a part of quarantine or working from home?  What if we paused to appreciate the opportunities we’ve been granted to re-establish old traditions and spend more time together?

Over the past few months, jigsaw puzzles, bikes, free weights, and board games have sold out of stores as people have taken time to work on personal fitness, create together, and explore together.  Rather than rushing off to baseball games and work meetings, we cooked dinner together, tried new dessert recipes, and enjoyed movie nights with our families.

In this time of quiet, we took walks down our streets, reconnected with our neighbors, and sat outside reading books or looking at stars. We taught grandparents and older family members how to Zoom or FaceTime so that we could maintain our close relationships while staying safely apart.

We were no longer too busy to color, paint, and mail birthday cards or handwritten notes to friends and family. Some of us explored new hobbies and talents, while others called long-distance friends on the phone instead of texting.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, gratitude is thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside them.

As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

Instead of focusing on the negativity of this pandemic, perhaps we all need to take time to be grateful for what we have gained after being forced to slow down and spend time with those who are most important to us. 

We are hearing over and over again from students and educators about how happy kids are to be back in school for in-person learning.  We are seeing an increased appreciation for the work teachers do every day, most importantly from the children sitting in desks spaced six-feet apart.

Just as we have embraced the importance of family cookouts, birthday parties, graduation events, and weddings, we have a newfound appreciation for everything schools and teachers provide every day.

Tonight at dinner as you discuss the events of the day, challenge each person at the table to share one aspect of the day he or she is grateful for.  Then ask what COVID-19 has taught them to appreciate.  You will be surprised how much there is to be grateful for, even in the midst of a pandemic.