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Gratitude and thankfulness seem in short supply as 2020 gets ready to wind down.

Here we are just shy of Thanksgiving, and for many of us, traditional, big family gatherings are tempered with caution from local and national health experts as the larger the group, the greater the chance the ever-looming COVID-19 could be present.

Finding a grateful heart in time for Thanksgiving seems like a tall task in the year many of us are dealing with loss, grief and fatigue.

Let’s start small.

Let’s seek out ideas like ripe apples, hanging low on the tree ready to be plucked and made into apple pie for the dinner table.

What are we doing? Hopefully, we are able to draw in a breath that doesn’t cause pain. I had a family member deal with COVID-19 pneumonia and a five-week stay in the hospital. She said breathing hurt as she dealt with the virus. She has recovered and that fills my grateful heart.

How about the ability to read this column? I think about those early days of elementary school. Think about those first sight words that those teachers drilled with us. I am grateful for my teachers then and those teachers now who are looking at their classrooms in very unique ways, often via Zoom.

Can you think of making purchases for the upcoming holiday meal? Is it turkey, stuffing, gravy, rolls and the like? What about nontraditional meals like lasagna or shrimp? Whatever dishes that will be part of the Thanksgiving table, embrace them with a welcoming heart and stomach. I know I will be grateful that we can purchase the fixings.

An added feature to the Thanksgiving meal comes in the form of family and the loving hands that prepare the meal.

I hope people are grateful for those who care for us. I love that my family is a bit quirky. We play games and tell silly stories. We have been known to watch the sunset together or look at the stars.

Family can be whatever definition one chooses it to be.

Sometimes, you are just too far to return home for the holidays or work obligations don’t allow for cross-country travel. Family can be friends made in a new city or that handful of folks that call you mom and dad, sister and brother or son and daughter.

However, with COVID-19, keep the group under six people.

After this November holiday is over, the mad rush to get to Christmas and New Year’s is on. I am hoping that by counting my smaller blessings, I can remember the season’s merriment and wonder while I hope I can be counted in other’s blessings.

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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