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Has Your Thankfulness Quotient Changed?

by Bev Berens

Published: Friday, November 20, 2020

Telling Your Story

Here we are nearing the end of November and it's Thanksgiving. Already? In ways, this year seems to have gained a few months. In other ways, time has flown.

It seems like just yesterday that my sweet mother died at the precious age of 95, even though it has been almost seven months. It also seems like we have been working for months to clean out, sort, sell and otherwise divide up her belongings. Oh wait, it has been months.

It seems like forever ago when the entire country paused to let a virus pass over our land, and here we are, almost eight months later, and it still grips our lives in so many ways.

An election, with its typical mudslinging, has wearied us all, and we will continue to wait for closure on that probably into 2021.

Has your holiday changed this year? Ours has. Our family hosts backed out, so I am hosting a slightly smaller group instead. I can't blame them for being cautious; they have existing (although well controlled) health concerns. They will be missed; we don't see them in person often. I enjoy hosting, especially when the crowd size is a little more manageable given the space we have. I love to get out the good dishes, serving plates, silver and linens for guests. Another upside—I have been cleaning like crazy, my house is going to sparkle, and it will be ready for Christmas decorating.

The world's chaos has made me reflect on my thankfulness quotient. Of course, I am grateful for the material blessing of living and working in a society where we can live in a home, earn a living, and have food, heat, water and electric. I appreciate the benefits of modern life!

More importantly, 2020 has prompted me into a reflection of relationships, something for which I am feeling the most gratitude during this flabbergasting year.

The blessings of long and good relationships within a family go without saying, but sometimes they need to be said anyway. I relish the company of my adult children, as I know my mother did as well. Losing her puts those relationships into deeper perspective. The long-lasting relationship with a spouse is both comforting and comfortable. We have a long history of shared experience that cannot be replaced.

I am more appreciative of relationships with friends and relatives. Deep, life-long friendships are places to find comfort, and support each other through good and bad.

Surprisingly, I am finding new relationships with habits. I hate doing the dishes; it's no secret. I do not have a dishwasher (well, I do; it doesn't work. It stores infrequently used baking items and sometimes hides cookies, although pretty much everyone knows where to look for cookies. Maybe someday I will fool them by storing cookies in a cookie jar). I am working on a new relationship with doing the dishes regularly instead of building a mountain I have to climb over and over. I consider the food that was prepared with thankfulness during a job that now usually lasts less than 15 minutes, instead of grumbling about climbing that same stupid mountain for hours when I would rather be doing something more fun. And I am thankful for clear countertops!

The clutter mountain also has a new priority, and I will say our relationship is progressing. I am thankful for less stuff! Since I am on the road for work less these days, I don't have as many excuses. I've had to look clutter in the eye. I've had to stare down its confusing messages of keep or toss and build a new master in this relationship. Since I'm spending more time in my own surroundings, it is motivation to take a hard look and decide who—me or the clutter—is going to be in charge.

This year has been a good chance to take a hard look at thankfulness. Enjoy the blessing of life, both material and intrinsic. Take every opportunity to dwell on what is important. Love and live every moment. Happy Thanksgiving to all—we've got a little more time left this year to figure out and appreciate life's abundance!

Bev Berens is a mom to 4-H and FFA members in Michigan. Do you have a story to share? Email her at

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