Thanksgiving, that uniquely North American holiday celebrated in the United States and Canada, is a time to be with our families, enjoy a special meal, and think about all we’re thankful for.
But this year, with its innumerable difficulties, social challenges and obstacles, and of course devastating pandemic, it may be harder than usual to gather with our families and maybe even to think of what we’re thankful for…the two most important parts of Thanksgiving.
This year has been so hard on so many people––including kids, although adults might not recognize this. The pandemic has made school this year more challenging and often less fun; many kids (like my sister and I) really miss seeing our friends in person. Some kids haven even dropped out! 🙁 But it’s especially been a hard year for many kids whose parents have lost their jobs––or worse, for those who’ve lost family members to COVID-19.
Climate change doesn’t help, either. Because even though we’re emitting less greenhouse gases this year due to more people working and learning from home, the climate is still under threat. But I don’t want to think about such depressing things when I’m trying to stay optimistic! I tell myself. Although I know I need to think about it––that is, think of ways to prevent or slow it. And even when that’s hard, it also takes a little optimism, and feeling grateful for what we have.
So, this Thursday, when you’re gathering around your table (or around your phone or tablet) to connect with your family––even if you don’t usually celebrate Thanksgiving in your country––take a moment to think of all the things you are thankful for.
If you have felt happy…be thankful for that, and for all the things that have gone right, that have given and continue to give you those precious moments of happiness.
If you have access to technology…be thankful for the technological advances, like those that allow you and your family to at least see each other’s faces, not to mention those which can slow climate change.
If you have a way to keep clean…be thankful for the sanitary supplies, like the good old-fashioned soap and water now available to almost everyone, that are keeping everybody so much safer and healthier.
If you have clean water…be thankful for that water. Some kids have to walk a long, long way to get it, and when they get there, the water often isn’t clean or safe to drink.
If you get to learn…be thankful that you’re learning, satisfying that deep hunger for knowledge, and giving you that chance to educate yourself of which too many kids are deprived. (Um, not feeling particularly grateful for school right now? Just consider what some kids have to go through just to get there!)
If you are fairly safe…be thankful for how safe you are, even if you still feel scared sometimes. No matter what your worries, chances are that you are safer (and more loved) than you know.
If you are loved…be thankful for that love. It is an irreplaceable gift given just to you.
And that’s not all…
Be thankful for how wonderful this world still is, considering how much worse it could be.
Be thankful for the people who are speaking out about the growing threat of climate change, and even willing to do something about it.
Be thankful that, miraculously, the world is changing not only for the worse, but also in many wonderful ways, however small, that slow down climate change and will eventually make our world better.
Yet sometimes…do you feel it’s not enough just to be thankful? Do you feel like you don’t have the resources to make a big enough impact? Have you ever wanted to help create more things to be thankful for––like a healthy planet? Do you want to speak out, but think, I’m just one kid…I’ll leave it to the experts and those already speaking out––?
Well, if you’re thinking this, you should not let it stop you! Do it anyway! If everyone who is speaking out now let this worry get in their way (and I’m sure they might have thought this same thing, too, at some point), there would be no Malala Yousafzai, no Amy and Ella Meeks, no Alexandria Villaseñor, no Isra Hirsi, no Katie Eder, no Vic Barrett, nor even Greta Thunberg to inspire us. Unthinkable!
And as for me, I certainly wouldn’t be writing this…I might not even know anything about climate change at all!
So, speak out––and don’t let anyone stop you! No one can take away your voice…or, for that matter, your optimism, or your thankfulness for the planet we live upon! You alone can decide not to let anyone silence you or convince you to just give in or give up.
For one happy day at least, just be thankful for this amazingly beautiful, wonderfully life-supporting, unfathomably special, irreplaceable Earth––the Earth that we have the marvelous good fortune to live and grow upon.
Thank you for reading!