Blogmas Day 24: A Grateful Heart in Trying Times

Merry Christmas Eve to you! For me, Christmas Eve is the most magical day of the year, and I wish I could stretch out the magic just a little longer. 

I know many of us are anxious to get through these last few days of the year, and finally close the book on 2020. We might feel that 2020 had nothing good to offer. We’ve faced hardships since February. We’ve all seen and laughed at the memes. “2020 is a wash, not counting it!” “I’m turning 29 again in 2021.” “How it started vs. How it’s going.” 

It goes totally against my beginning of the year mantra, “Just because it could be worse, doesn’t mean your negative feelings aren’t valid,” to pretend that this year was all roses and daffodils. But, it’s also not right to pretend that this year was all bad. That said, here’s what I’m most grateful for in 2020: 

  1. Quiet. There’s zero denying that 2020 gifted us a lot of quiet time to reflect. Whether that’s because you didn’t physically have to go into work, you skipped out on many Saturdays at the grocery store, or you swapped your morning commute for some time to yourself, quiet is truly a gift. I think many of us spent the first few months of the pandemic cursing the quiet, yearning for outings and parties and box-office hits, haha. But, the quiet has given me so much, and for this extra silence, I’m thankful. 
  2. A slower pace. What was slower paced, you might ask? Well, everything. Life post-college until March 13th of this year has always felt very go, go, GO! Work, weddings, cleaning, traveling, a vicious cycle of getting up earlier and going to bed later, seemingly every single day. I think we all benefited from a shift in everyone’s priorities, and a shift in the pace of life. I’ve taken more lunch breaks in the past nine months than I did in the five years leading up to them. I’ve read more books, made more paintings, and spent more hours out in nature than maybe ever. I’m so thankful for this slower pace and I hope it’s part of the “new normal” that we can take with us. 
  3. Quality time. I’m not here to tell you how it is, but if you think you haven’t had any quality time with your loved ones since the pandemic started, you’re doing it wrong. Have I been able to physically hug my family and friends since the start of this? No, I haven’t. But, I’ve had plenty of warm and fuzzy FaceTime calls, Zoom meetings, virtual happy hours, and sidewalk chats that kept me close to my favorite people. And something about the uncertainty of what lies ahead instilled a vulnerability in my circle that just made us all a lot more open. I feel more connected to and seen by my loved ones than ever.
  4. Introspection. Going into 2020, I’d really focused in on some big personal flaws and though I wanted to fix them more than anything, I felt like I never had the time. This serves as a second thank you to the extra time that 2020 gave me! In the year leading up to the pandemic I was feeling very ashamed of how cynical and quick to anger I was, and how poorly I was treating others, even if it was just in my head. And while some of these emotions were the results of circumstances outside of my control, I’m still the only one to be held accountable for me, you know? I’ve really gotten to know myself over the past nine months – good, bad, and ugly. I’m reshaping my heart to better match who I want to be. 
  5. Finally, intentionality. I’ve talked about being intentional a lot in this space, but I can’t stress its importance enough, especially in adulthood. As you have more obligations and priorities, it’s so easy to just let yourself react and feel the way that your reflexes dictate. For me, if 2020 lacked intentionality, then yes, I would be the biggest curmudgeon you’d ever met! But, I decided to be intentional about giving thanks, and I’m better for it. So, yes, while bad things are very, very much afoot, I’m still thankful. For what? Well, a husband who isn’t sick of me yet, and keeps me sane and alive (literally, because I can’t and don’t cook). Parents who love and support me, and also put up with my endless antics. Friends to laugh (and did we cry?) with. A healthy body that’s walked many miles since the start of this. A job that challenges me daily and a great work family. A house that feels like home, and the time that I’ve been able to spend in it (do you realize that our pets know our homes better than we do?). Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. JK, but you get the point! I’m thankful, even on days that I have to try harder to figure out why. 

So, no matter where this post finds you physically, mentally, or financially, I do hope that you have cozy and peaceful holidays (or Thursdays!), and that you can find some time to reflect on the blessings of 2020, instead of the pitfalls. From my household to yours, Merry  Christmas Eve! 

xoxo Leigh Ann

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Maker of artish things. TV junkie. Where's the pizza?

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