Expressing Gratitude; Even When It’s Hard


Sitting down to write a gratitude post the day before Thanksgiving while 7 months into a pandemic felt like an exercise in patience. Chicagoland has been covered in a curtain of drizzle and the lights on the tree-lined streets have provided the most perfect cozy glow to reflect on a year filled with so much for so many. Compared to a lot of families out there, the things we’ve endured haven’t been that hard so it seems futile to wallow in not-so-great aspects of our 2020. We’re healthy. We have jobs. We’re in an okay headspace. And we’re together. This year, I’m thankful for…

…a smooth transition. Northern Virginia has definitely felt the most like home for our family. Clay’s last assignment had us there for three years so we were comfortable and about as settled as a military family can expect. We were all looking forward to our PCS to Fort Sheridan despite the apprehension we felt about uprooting our lives during a pandemic. Our kids were able to start their school year in a hybrid classroom so even though they’re remote for the time being, they were able to make in-person connections with their teachers and classmates. And while the winter sports seasons have been postponed, both were able to participate in sports this fall. They’re tough kids and their resiliency shined bright this year. One of our family mottos is ‘do the best with what you have‘ and I feel like we’ve done just that.

We also really like our on-post neighborhood and you can’t beat living a few hundred yards from Lake Michigan. It’s impossible to look around our warm and safe house in a beautiful setting and feel anything but gratitude. And you know what? It’s downright impossible to be in a bad mood when you can spend hours paddle boarding on Lake Michigan during the warm months.

…long hikes in the woods. We have spent hours upon hours in the woods as a family this year and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Granted – our wooded hike options are limited in Northern Illinois, at least compared to Northern Virginia, but we are logging miles as a family on the trails along the water and wherever else we can.

...long(er) bike rides. Now that our kids are getting older, we’re taking full advantage of their increased endurance and longer legs. This year, we were able to bike as a family in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Illinois. While they weren’t the rides we experienced in Salzburg and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 2019, I’m incredibly thankful that we were able to spend so much time on our bikes this year. I am also expressing gratitude that bikes are beginning to be in stock again because our poor son has been riding a much-too-small bike for the majority of the year. Here’s hoping we can find him one by spring.

…levity. Memes and GIFs have saved my sanity this year. This year has really shown me the importance of surrounding myself with people who are not only kind and empathetic, but also possess a killer sense of humor. “[Humanity] has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” — Mark Twain

…new family members. We adopted our kitten, Alice, in August and she has fully enveloped herself as a member of our pack. We’re picking up our newest teammate – a puppy – next week and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have animals in the house again.

…and finally, kisses goodnight. In all of 2020 Clay was only TDY for about 30 days total, which may be a record in our {almost} 16 years of marriage. I admit that I felt some twinges of jealously when friends would post about having their spouse working from home but I quickly dismissed those green feelings because despite my husband still going into work, he wasn’t calling me from a foreign country. In 2020, I am thankful that my husband was able to kiss me goodnight more times than in recent memory.

How can I not love that?

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