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Column: Even in the middle of a pandemic, there are plenty of blessings to count
Shannon Casas high res
Shannon Casas

I’ve got a lot to give thanks for in 2020. I know, it’s been a crazy year — and it’s been really tough on some. 

But the song goes “count your blessings,” not count your grievances. So that’s what I’m going to do, at least this week if not the others.

That word “blessings” is a bit of a sticking point for me, actually — like I did something to deserve God’s favor. It sounds better when you’re the one who has been blessed, not so good when you’re on the outside looking in at others’ blessings. I’m blessed with good health. Others are not. I don’t believe that has anything to do with how worthy I am of good health. I’ll refer you to the book of Job for more wrestling on the topic of blessings and curses. Meanwhile, these are the things I’m thankful for this year.

COVID-19 face masks keep my nose warm. Yes, it’s a small thing, but now that the weather has finally started to cool off, I have realized this lovely benefit. I’m always cold in the winter, but you can’t exactly walk around North Georgia with a ski mask on without people assuming you’re a robber. Now, however, I can walk around wearing a warm face mask without getting a second glance. 

This fall has had some beautiful weather. There have been plenty of days of warm sunshine and colorful leaves. I’ve got a tree out front that turned a lovely gold this month before dropping most of its leaves this week.

Continuing on the theme of climate, I can control the temperature in my office. No more freezing at 345 Green St. while someone else in the newsroom runs his fan. It’s my home, my rules and the thermostat does what I tell it to do.

My kids are both doing well academically. They love to learn. One of them knows 20 of his 26 letters and the other knows a long list of sight words, so long I have no idea how many words he can read at first sight now, but it’s a lot. They’re interested in math, too. I refer all of those conversations to my husband. Yes, I know what 2+2 is and what 2x2 is, but I’m teaching them now that they ask their dad the math questions. Thankfully, the only math I need regularly is the difference between percent and percentage point.

I can order takeout with a few taps on my phone. Local restaurants have adapted, and it’s now much easier to peruse a menu, select a few items and then pick up my order. Tacos? Two, please. Cheese dip? Yes.

Then there’s also the ongoing wonder of ordering groceries online for pickup at no additional cost. Add everything to my basket and select a time for pickup. Show up, tap the phone again to tell them I’m there, and they roll the groceries out to my car and load them in the back. Talk about spoiled (or was it blessed).

Then there are of course the things that really matter. I’ve got two boys who became my sons this year. We don’t share DNA, but it’s incredible to see how much they take after my husband and me, anyway — in good ways and bad. We’ve walked through a lot together and the journey isn’t nearly over, but sometimes I forget just how far we’ve come.

My family is healthy. My little nephew learned to crawl, dragging one knee up under him. He’ll be walking by Christmas. One of my sisters got engaged, and I look forward to being blessed by her fiance’s cooking for years to come. My brother’s flower farm business has taken off and has the most beautiful Instagram feed. My parents are living and loving the retired life.

There’s also you. Sometimes y’all send me letters and emails just to say you liked one of my columns. So, speaking of focusing on blessings rather than grievances, know that every one of those little notes is treasured. I hear plenty of grievances — some legitimate and others that make me scratch my head — and the time y’all take to reach out about something you connected with means something.

I hope you have people and connections to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. And I hope if you don’t feel blessed this year, you can find a few things to be thankful for in spite of your circumstances. We all need each other.

Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a North Hall resident. 

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