Congratulations, we’ve made it to November! It was a little touch and go there for a while, yet, perplexingly enough, the end of 2020 will soon be upon us.
In a typical year, I’d be the first one to cast November aside as a month that rather lacks consequence. Aside from the glorious day of eating my weight in goodies on Thanksgiving, I’ve long been guilty of seeing November as little more than a drawn-out precursor to “the most wonderful time of the year.” I’m the type of person who, despite my valiant efforts to hold out until the first of November, often ends up listening to holiday music before Halloween. While I admit that I couldn’t help but sneak in a few bars of Justin Bieber’s legendary Under the Mistletoe before the end of spooky season, I feel more reluctant this year to completely gloss over everything November has to offer.
I’m thinking first and foremost about gratitude. November is, of course, the month of Thanksgiving, a holiday of disastrous origins which I will not even begin to unpack here. (While much of the country gorges themselves on pumpkin pie, many Native Americans hold the date as a National Day of Mourning and congregate in Plymouth to reflect on the extensive history of atrocity.) I would like to make a disclaimer that I by no means endorse the horribly ignorant and inhumane history upon which this tradition rests; I instead intend to support the spirit of gratefulness and introspection that has long accompanied the feast day.
We’ve been through it in 2020. Some have felt the brunt more than others, whether that be healthcare professionals working around the clock with minimal PPE or those out on the streets fighting for Black lives this summer and fall. By way of the innumerable trials and tribulations 2020 has brought us, we’ve all been able to bear witness to the cracks in our system — insufficient support for healthcare workers, longstanding practices of brutality by law enforcement, mounting climate change and its contributions to natural disasters — the list is not a short one.
We have all been challenged this year in ways we could not have reasonably foreseen. We have also, however, endured these challenges and continue to endure these challenges. While 2020 has demonstrated the fragility of everything we hold most dear, it has also given us time to recognize just how much we actually do hold dear. Isn’t there something beautiful about having so much to want to hold onto?
Of course, there is a major point of privilege here. Privileges based on race, ability level, health, socioeconomic status, and gender undoubtedly shape the degree of challenge with which we are confronted. It is crucial that this knowledge guides how we move through the world.
Perhaps you’re feeling particularly grateful for a loved one that has kept you grounded during this turbulent era. Perhaps you’re thankful for your own personal fortitude. (There’s nothing wrong with a little inward gratitude!) At the moment, I’m feeling particularly grateful for my support system, my health, and my morning bowl of oatmeal.
Are you feeling grateful this November? Let us know in the poll below.
Cover Photo by Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash
Are you feeling grateful this November?