Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Sara and Melissa talk about...Being Thankful

We've been running a column series to get more personal with our readers. This month, in honor of Thanksgiving, we're talking about what makes us thankful.

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Melissa Amster:

Thanksgiving is going to look strange this year, with not having a family gathering the way we have every single year. It will be small and quiet with the same four people I've had meals with every day since the pandemic started in husband and kids. And yet I am thankful. I'm not thankful for the pandemic, obviously, but for other things that either have to do with the pandemic or are just the same things I am thankful for every year. 

My family: I love my husband and kids more than anything and I am thankful that we've been able to weather this past year together without fighting all that much (aside from normal sibling rivalry issues). We still have a good time together and I feel like all this quality family time has brought us even closer. I also am thankful for my extended family, which includes my parents, sister, in-laws, aunt, uncle, cousins, etc. 

My friends: I love my friends and am so glad we are able to stay in touch, no matter how far apart we are from each other. Even the friends who live close by but we can't always see in person, we make sure to stay connected with in one way or another. 

Technology: If the pandemic happened in the early nineties, it would have been a whole different story. Right now, I'm thankful that my kids can still get an education, even though it's from a computer in their bedroom. I'm also thankful that my husband can work remotely for his new job. And, of course, we can video chat with anyone we want, which is so amazing. Technology is keeping us in each other's lives, even if we can't do it in person right now.

Love: Aside from the love of my family, two women I am really close with have found their beshert (what we call "meant to be" in Yiddish, meaning their "true love" or "soulmate") over the past couple of years and I am so happy for both of them!

Entertainment: While being cooped up at home, I've been treated to some great TV shows this past year. Highest honor goes to Schitt's Creek, which I finally decided to watch this year and then re-watched with my older son because I love it so much. Dan Levy has created a true gem and it rightly deserved all those Emmys! I also love @mjudsonberry on Instagram and TikTok, who keeps the humor going for me through his wonderful impressions. Because of Schitt's Creek, I decided to invest my time in two other shows that I now love: The Umbrella Academy and Degrassi: The Next Generation. I started watching Umbrella because I had heard that the motel from Schitt's Creek is used in a couple of episodes. I didn't expect to love this show as much as I do though! Then I found out that Dan Levy was on Degrassi Goes Hollywood and I watched it to see him, but was then intrigued enough to try the series from the beginning. I have been binge watching it ever since and it is saving my sanity. (I even got Sara hooked on both shows. ;) ) Aside from these shows, I've watched a few other ones this past summer that I really like, namely Love, Victor and Never Have I Ever. I still have others to watch as well, along with the shows that I regularly watch and have now returned (even though This is Us is on break until January). My other current addiction is the musical Six. While I haven't seen it, I've been listening to the music and it's currently playing in my head. It's very catchy and a whole lot of fun.

Opportunity: When one door closes, another one opens. This past summer, I was laid off from my full-time non-profit job that I had been doing for the last ten-and-a-half years. While I miss the people I worked with, I am still in touch with a bunch of them. However, this was the push I needed to look for work in the book industry. I've already done some freelance jobs working for authors, publicists, and publishers. I am enjoying the new challenges and am gaining more experience in the field. 

Finally, I am thankful that no one in my family has gotten Covid. I pray that we continue to stay safe and healthy. Same goes for everyone reading this post!

I could go on and on about things I am thankful for, but now it's time to give Sara the floor. 

Sara Steven:

In the time of Covid, it can be hard to feel thankful. The longer this year has gone on, I discover more and more people in my close-knit circle are either affected financially or physically by Covid, having had it themselves, or they know someone who has been affected. I haven’t seen my extended family in I don’t know how long, due to travel concerns, and I miss them so much. I’ve had to make agonizing decisions in cancelling plans, trying to weigh the pain in not allowing my loved ones to visit, vs. trying to be cautious and careful. It can seem as though there is no end in sight, and so many of us are secluded away, or when we venture out, we’re wearing masks. It’s the new abnormal normal.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, my goal has been in trying to appreciate what I do know. And what I have, even if it’s not right in front of me. My immediate and extended family are healthy, knock on wood. I know I can’t see everyone in person, but thankfully, there is technology available that allows me to “see” them, even if it's by camera. I know it’s nowhere near the same, but it’s something. 

I’m beyond grateful for the friendships I have in my life, the people who support me and support my decisions. I’ve had to cancel trips and reservations, I’ve had to gently tell people from out-of-state that it’s just not a good time to travel right now, and even if they’re not on the same page that I am regarding Covid, they’ve been nothing but respectful. There have been no emotional guilt trips or accusations. We respect each other, regardless.

I’m so glad my boys attend schools in a district that encourages online learning right now. Schools out here in Arizona have opened their doors to their students, but they’ve also allowed children to attend online, too, and I know how hard the teachers work in providing both experiences to their classrooms. The same goes for my college experience with Arizona State University. The news focuses a lot on the students who are holding Covid parties on campus, and I get it. But ASU has also allowed their instructors the opportunity to work from home and hold Zoom classes, or utilize their Sync program, where a student can choose to do the class from home via Zoom, or go in person with their mask, whatever their comfort level.  It’s nice that no one feels forced to do something that they aren’t comfortable with, and I appreciate that from all angles.

So many of us are wishing this year would hurry up and end already, and I feel that way, too. My hope is that things will get better in 2021, on so many levels. But in the meantime, I’m going to continue to try and find what I can to be thankful for, and I hope no matter what it is, that you’re able to do that, too. 

What are YOU thankful for this year?

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