Well, this year has been a doozy. A global pandemic, economic crash, political and social unrest, climate disasters, and don’t even get me started on Tiger King. It’s safe to say, we’ve all had something to complain about. Many people’s lives are irreversibly changed after the crazy twists and turns of 2020. Job losses, sickness, and just general life stress has dominated our conversations and new cycles.

But, for some, this year has actually had bright spots. Maybe you are one of the few who are heading into this Thanksgiving season with more gratefulness in your heart than ever? Sure, we can all dig deep and think of things to be happy about this year, but there are some folks who have really had an epic year. Perhaps you became pregnant after years of infertility. Maybe your business served an important purpose during our stay at home mandates and you are enjoying huge financial success. Or, maybe the time at home and break from the rat race of life was the exact saving grace your mental health needed. As hard as it is to imagine, there are actually people who are having their best years ever.

But, imagine the looks you would get around the Thanksgiving table if you announced to friends and family how fantastic this dumpster fire of a year has been. Is it even appropriate to mention your good fortune when so many people are hurting? How can we celebrate our blessings while being sensitive to the losses of others?

First of all, it is totally appropriate and acceptable to be grateful for your successes in life, even when others are suffering. You can be an empathetic, caring friend or family member, while also enjoying the blessings in your own life. Know that life is short and seasons of happiness come and go for everyone. There were surely years that you would like to forget, but friends deemed as their favorite.

The truth is, that while this year has been particularly challenging, there have been and always will be hard times. The holidays can be difficult even in a non-pandemic year. While you should be able to enjoy your good fortune this year, know that your good news might not be celebrated in every crowd. Your job promotion announcement might sting for the family member who has been out of work for months. Your new house news might be hard to hear for a friend who is not sure how to pay next month’s rent. And if you have recently gotten back to your pre-baby weight, maybe don’t bring it up to those of us who partook in the endless Doritos BOGOs for months on end and are still hanging onto the quarantine 15.

While you definitely want to be cognizant of other’s feelings (AKA know your audience), it can be alright to share your happiness with the right crowd. In fact, joy is often contagious. Find your people who have known you and loved you through all the seasons of life, and share your happiness with them. Depending on the situation, sometimes your positive news could just be the thing that your struggling friend needs to hear to know that there is still good in the world. This hasn’t been everyone’s year, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be grateful for the fact that it was yours.

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Karen Smith
Karen was born in Ohio but spent most of her childhood in Florida. She attended the University of Florida, where she met her husband, and she got her Master’s in Elementary Education at the University of South Florida. She taught first grade in Tampa until her oldest son was born. Her plans to return to the classroom changed when her husband’s job brought them to Pennsylvania where they welcomed another son. The following years brought them to Raleigh and then St. Augustine. After spending two years substitute teaching in St. Johns County, Karen is now teaching VPK at a local preschool. She enjoys days on the water with her family, reading “chick lit” with a glass of wine, pretending to be Ina Garten in the kitchen, and cheering on her Gators. She embraces all things #boymom and has never met a doughnut/taco/pasta that she didn’t like.