I wanted to spare you — and myself — mostly, from this cringey excuse for a title, but I don’t think there’s any other way around it. Besides, it’s cute as it is cringey, and after 2020, what else is there that we can’t take anyway?
Covid-19 left friends losing family members and family losing friends. There was a time when I refused to look at my Facebook feed because it almost resembled an obituary.
Covid-19 also caused the collapse of industries with small-to-medium companies taking the brunt of adverse global and local economic situations. People lost jobs, with me included in the statistics, unfortunately.
It wasn’t only the virus that turned our world upside down. There were massive forest fires, earthquakes, typhoons and other kinds of illnesses that were easily ignored because of the thick, mucky mud that was Covid. Some people rose above the occasion, some sank, and some were left unfazed.
This is where I want to begin my list. The list, by the way, is not ranked in a particular way.
20 Things I’m Thankful in 2020
- Discovering the strength and resilience I never acknowledged I had. The year 2020 was not so much about going against the negative forces happening around me because there really was nothing I could do about it. There were times when I got scared and got overwhelmed by feelings of uncertainty, regret (not doing some things at a time when I easily could), frustration (I abhor wearing masks), and a general sense of fear that things may never be the same again. But underneath all these, I was also experiencing a deep sense of calmness and steadiness that anchored me through one maskful year. You see, our challenge started in January 2020 when Mount Taal (one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines) erupted and we experienced the horrendous ash fall. Our doors and windows had to be shut tight for two months. We could not go out without masks on, and the whole thing was literally suffocating. By March, we had to continue wearing masks for a totally different reason — Covid-19. I think the one thing that helped me get through was consciously living one day at a time.
- Family–my first favorite word. Having my family beside me at a difficult time has given me more reasons to squish them all together, sniff them, see them smile, hear them get mad and vent out their own frustrations, have small fights with them, be able to help them, laugh with them, just lie around and do nothing with them. Being with my family is like living in my own sitcom.
- Laughter. If there is one thing I don’t ever want to lose, it’s the capacity to laugh at myself, laugh at my — and secretly at others’ — innocent mistakes (because as humans we are allowed to be mean like that sometimes). A good sense of humor is the best antidote to any illness. I didn’t make that up. Evidence-based studies say so.
- The power of the internet. Both my sisters live in places far, far away. The snail mail won’t cut it at a time like this. My closest friends are also in different parts of the world and across the country, and being able to talk to them real time adds one big point to the happy list.
- The not so powerful internet — because we need to slow down and cut back on our screen time what with fearmongering and fake news reigning in all the time, and not to mention the anger, anxiety and feigned intelligence that are all enough to give us an ugly hangover we don’t deserve.
- Gratitude — my second favorite word. It leads the way to everything that is good and beautiful in my every day especially if I begin my morning with a ‘thank you!’.
- The ability to be creative with food. Stuck at home with limited access to fresh food and new batches of weekly groceries, my husband and I depended on our creativity to whip up food that’s not boring and bland.
- A safe night market a few steps away from us. We award ourselves ‘lazy days’ and it’s great that we have a reliable go-to night market with lots of options for food that are cheap but sumptuous. Travelers and bikers traversing the Tagaytay-Batangas route (or wherever these ubiquitous riders are coming from) may agree because we see a lot of them dropping by on weekends to enjoy the food.
- Meditation. I honestly don’t know how to survive without my daily morning ang night meditations. It works powerfully well that it’s even addictive.
- Being a new pet owner. I thought my little, hyperactive and amazingly intelligent Pomeranian was going to benefit from me being his human carer. Turns out, I’m benefitting so much more from him.
- Kind, generous, and hardworking children who also happen to have a great sense of humor. All throughout 2020, I have seen so many posts from parents complaining, albeit subtly, about how getting stuck at home has changed their kids in one way or another. Thankfully, ours are riding through difficult times gracefully. They also religiously do their daily household chores without being told to, find humor in so many things and are thriving really well even under the new normal.
- My husband’s job and his hard work and dedication to it. We suddenly became a one-income household when the pandemic started. It has allowed us to continue living a simple yet comfortable life that’s also free of worries. At a time like this, it’s so much to be thankful for.
- Airbnb named us Super Host for the second time. We sadly had to close down our daily home rentals because of… what else… Covid! It was such a surprise to get an e-mail from Airbnb that we made it as Super Host for 2020. The first time was in 2013 when we hosted in Boracay for a year. I am sincerely thankful for the hundreds of guests who left us 5-star reviews that led us to getting this much-coveted recognition for hosts.
- Music. Sometimes I get enlightenment from spiritual gurus and experiences. Sometimes I also get it from Christopher Cross.
- Great-paying side hustles. Being offered a freelance job by a former boss means not only gaining the ability to earn good money on my own free time, but also getting the same trust and confidence he gave me under his employment in the past. This is not the first time a past employer has offered me a freelance job. There is wisdom in the words “never burn bridges”. Also, 2020 gave back my faith in freelancing. There are legitimate freelance jobs that pay more than the usual measly $5 to $10 dollars an hour rate out there. I promise.
- Good health. Aside from the sniffles usually caused by allergies, none of us got sick throughout the year.
- Living a small-town life. There is always joy in living a quiet, rural life. This set-up will not be permanent for us, but while we’re here we are tremendously enjoying fresh and good food, fresher air and well-meaning neighbors who even offered to do our grocery runs for us, clean up the front of our house and do other chores we couldn’t do while on quarantine. We moved here in July — at the height of the lockdowns — and the town gladly adhered to strict quarantine rules for newcomers like us, thus the home quarantine.
- Access to electricity and clean water. A lot of people take them for granted sometimes. Not me. There isn’t a day when I don’t say ‘thank you’ for both of these. People who know me well know that running water is the one thing I consider real wealth!
- Movie streaming. In short, Netflix. Something is telling me I don’t need to explain this.
- Endless opportunities for learning. Having “nothing to do” while on lockdown was a myth. Life in slow motion opened the chance for me to learn new things. I gorged on books that have been on our shelves for many years, learned lessons online, looked at things around me and gained better insight and appreciation for them.
There are so many things I am thankful for, but let 20 be my magic number for now. I am praying that 2021 will be a much better year for all of us.
What’s the biggest thing you’re thankful for in 2020? Would love to hear them!
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No one wants to say it out loud, but can you choose your child’s friends?
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