What a year that was, eh? Still, there is much in life we might be thankful for. This article was originally published to coincide with Thanksgiving 2020, but it is still relevant in these early weeks of 2021. Here are six reasons we can all be thankful.
1. The kids are still young. The pandemic has put enormous pressure on families everywhere and severely limited the things we can do together. But our love for one another burns all the brighter. Every day I look at my kids, and I think “Oh wow… I have kids… and they’re the most amazing people… and I love them so much”. I think we all do that. No matter how many times they shout in my ear, or leave toys strewn over the floor, or force me to watch Peppa Pig, I will still love them to bits. And I know that 40 years from now, I would give everything to spend just an hour with them at this age once again. It’s a magical time, despite all that’s wrong with the world.
2. Light at the end of the tunnel. The lockdowns, social distancing and face masks will continue for months yet, we now have real cause for optimism with approved vaccines rolling out.
3. We’re better prepared for next time. The events of the past year have been grim for everyone, with countless personal tragedies and lives upturned. Yet collectively we’ve avoided still darker outcomes. What if the virus had been even more deadly? What if it had attacked children as it attacks adults? We’ve lost over a million people worldwide to the virus so far, but the 1918 flu pandemic took 50 million. If any good comes from the tragedy of 2020, it will be that the world is now better prepared should an even more dangerous virus emerge.
4. Technology to the rescue! Imagine if the pandemic had hit 20 years ago. No Zoom. No Skype. Phone calls (probably from a landline) would have been the only way to talk to friends and family. Office-based businesses would have struggled to function with all their staff at home, many without any form of internet. Home schooling would have also looked very different. In 2000, could the biotech sector have developed vaccines in just a few months? There’s never a right year for a pandemic, but we’re better equipped now than even a few years ago. Now, if only someone could invent the holodeck from Star Trek…
5. Renewed appreciation. The pandemic has offered a chance for us all to reappraise what is important in life. The outpouring of thanks for doctors, nurses and other key workers around the world is just the most obvious example. Isolation from close relatives has been painful for so many families. How much more will we value a hug from grandma or a simple family gathering?
The next family holiday will be extra special. The “feel like we should” trip to the museum will become an “oh this is going to be so much fun” trip to the museum. An invitation to a soft play party might actually have parents smiling as much as their children!
6. New-found love of nature. With so much of the world closed off or limited, many of us have turned to the great outdoors. I’m lucky enough to live in a flat that overlooks a small park. It was little more than a cut-through before the pandemic, but is now bustling all day long (even more so when gatherings of more than two are allowed). Families are out exploring the woods, hills and countryside like never before. This has to be beneficial for both fitness and environmental awareness. Building an army of young naturalists can only be a good thing, with the enormous challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change that lie ahead.
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