Entertainment, Katie McDowell, Life & Leisure

Giving thanks in a very unusual year

Katie McDowell

I have no idea how it happened, but with Thanksgiving a mere five days away, it seems it’s time for me to make my annual list of things for which I’m thankful.
So I suppose I’ll get right to it.

One: My health. In previous years, I’ve always avoided listing health as one of my grateful-fors. It just seemed to me a bit trite — one of those things that goes without saying. Or that people say, but don’t really mean, because they take their own good health for granted and therefore don’t actively feel thankful for it at all. It just is. Obviously, this year, things are a bit different, and so far, I’ve been fortunate enough to stay well. That’s certainly worth acknowledging.

Two: The health of my loved ones. More so than my own, I am grateful for the sustained good health of the people I adore. My family, my friends — I haven’t seen most of them in nearly nine months, maybe longer. But knowing they are out there, still among us, is worth all the quarantining in the world if it keeps them safer.

Three: Your health. If you share in my good fortune, I am grateful for that. If you have gotten sick, but recovered, I am grateful for that. Since this pandemic started I have stayed close to home, venturing out only for my weekly grocery trip and Saturday stops at the farmer’s market. Maybe a takeout run here and there. I have worn a mask and kept my distance whenever in a public place, and have been super thankful to all my fellow humans who care enough about my health, and the health of their other fellow humans, to do the same.

Four: TV. Does it sounds as grand and sweeping as “continued good health?” No. But has the steady stream of shows, new documentaries, limited series and halfway decent horror movies kept me going during these months of isolation? You better believe it. Whether it’s a recent binge of “Hoarders” on Hulu that motivated a whole-house clean, to trying to figure out who the killer is on HBO’s “The Undoing,” to delving obsessively into the depraved mind of NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere on not one, but two documentaries, it has provided a much needed escape. Hat’s off to you, boob tube (as my mother used to call it).

Five: My dogs. I do not know how anyone survives lockdown without dogs — or at least some kind of animal friend. Maybe those are the maskless people I see wandering aimlessly and carelessly through the world — throwing caution to the wind because they don’t have pets to take care of. I just know that without my doggos, the days, nevermind the nights, would be longer and infinitely harder. Their goofy antics keep me entertained, their needs keep me motivated (morning pees no later than 7 a.m., weekends included). But most of all, their pure spirits keep me soft, when so much of what’s happening in the world threatens to harden this gratefully healthy girl’s heart.

Plus, they don’t complain about the stupid songs I (constantly) make up. And they have yet to tell me to stop yelling, “He won fair and square! Move on already!” around the house. Good boys.

Six: Promising vaccine news. I know we are all itching to come back to life — me, I’d love to be able to actually wear the million things I’ve bought online in the past eight months. I want to see my friends again. I want to look at works of art in museums. I want to eat pancakes in a public place, while sitting closer than 6 feet to someone. News of a vaccine keeps the hope alive that all those wishes could come true soon. Or if not soon, soonish.

I also hope that when it does happen — like my good health — I never take any of it for granted again.

And so I bid you all a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

To those who have been affected by this pandemic, who have lost loved ones to it, or to its many rippling effects, I wish you comfort in your grief and offer my deepest condolences for your sorrow.

Be well, everybody. Please, wear your masks, and let’s continue to take care of each other.

It means something, people. It really does.

I genuinely appreciate the efforts and sacrifices you’re all making.

Today, this week, and beyond.

Katie McDowell is the enterprise editor and lifestyles columnist for The Dominion Post. Email her at kmcdowell@dominionpost.com