Holidays tend to be benchmarks. From year to year, the imprint of a nationally recognized day packaged with expectations and traditions, shared by the masses, tends to solidify those 24 hours in our memories. Isn’t it remarkable how you can remember a Thanksgiving meal in detail from your childhood but perhaps not any other non-holiday Thursday dinner with the same clarity?

Whether your holidays involved a houseful of guests, multitudes of family around the table or a casual, quiet meal for two, these past few years have brought a lot of challenges for most of us. Along with the rhythms of life playing out the typical changes one might experience such as kids going to college, marriages, divorces, births and deaths, we have had the pandemic. Altering so much of our “normal” routines, COVID-19 created new stressors we had never experienced before.

We learned to shop, recreate, socialize and even live differently as we weathered each new development. More hours or loss of work, job changes and the never-ending landscape of what today might bring burdened our minds. Keeping loved ones safe, minimizing risk and planning for various outcomes seemed to consume our days, but now things are changing.

Did you struggle to find a turkey last year? We did, but those shortages seem to be resolving for the most part. I predict it will be turkey and gravy, mashed and sweet, stuffing and cranberries for many again this year. Pick your favorite pie – mine is cherry – and slice a piece for your pumpkin and yourself. This is not a year to count calories or hold on the butter. Celebrate and savor the moments – however the day plays out.

Will you travel to be with loved ones or enjoy a special venue? Trips seem to be on many people’s agenda for the holidays. Things might not go smoothly, but that’s OK. You’ll be out and about, so revel in the excitement and newness of it all. We’ve been apart for too long and those that can be on the move are getting ready to do so. Thankful for the ability to gather once again, people are enjoying life and hopefully finding themselves a bit more resilient from the recent challenges.

Perhaps this will be one thing about the pandemic that we can tuck away with our holiday memories. The reminder that we are not promised much more than this day and thus we should do our best to marvel in each moment. From the mundane to the marvelous, our days are a gift that should not be squandered. If the day holds painful reminders, it can be tough to feel festive around others. May I suggest starting small and doing something lovely for yourself in preparation for festivities? A walk in the woods, a cool drink enjoyed on a sunny bench or even sleeping in can do wonders for a weary soul.

As we take care of ourselves and each other this holiday season, let’s remember to be fully, genuinely thankful for what we are experiencing. Things are different, but so are we.

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