They say hindsight is 20/20 and as I look back over the year, I can honestly say that things could have gone far worse for me. I am beyond grateful to say they didn’t. This Thanksgiving had me a bit nostalgic remembering all the experiences I’ve had leading me to this point. Most of them were great and some were less than desirable, but they were all memorable and taught me to live from a place of love, humility, and thankfulness.
Take my Thanksgiving experience in 2017. This particular year, I spent the holiday among friends and community I had built while living in a young adult shelter for four months. I had since moved out and found stable housing with a friend, but we decided to spend our time with those we had grown so close to at the Lark-Inn youth drop-in center on Golden Gate Ave. It seemed like any other day where we walked to the center and waited in line to sign in, but instead of walking into the center as patrons, we were entering as welcomed guests. In a way, we had graduated because we got out and were successful in housing ourselves and remained independent. That day, I was thankful for the company and the food, and the freedom we had to move about the city. Most thanksgivings preceding that, I found myself road tripping with my mom and brother to some relatives’ house for a day full of family, meal prep, taste testing, and love and laughter. At Christmas time, the whole ordeal began again, with the bonus of gift-giving and the possibility of snow. It’s crazy how different experiences can be and easily things can change, but with Covid, the holidays are looking so much different this year.
Instead of large family gatherings and friends-givings, many people are sheltering in place or in quarantine alone. I can’t help but think of those I was sheltered with. Are they safe and warm? Did the presence of Covid change their relationship to their circumstances at home? Or are they having to face this hardship alone? The lucky ones are sharing space with our partners, pets, or technology and it’s days like today that I thank God for technology. It gives me peace of mind knowing that people can meet and remain connected to one another in ways we never thought imaginable just a few decades ago. We can see and hear one another in real-time even though we can’t touch one another or directly feel the warmth of their energy. And even though we are separate, I feel like we’re finally understanding the meaning of oneness and interconnectivity. I believe there is the Spirit of thankfulness and love that surrounds us every day and reminds us that all things are possible when we remain united and show love to another.
This year has been a whirlwind for me. I find myself with a new job in a new town of a new state, which usually leaves me feeling somewhat drained and over the transition, and somehow this move felt different. It felt like the end of a cycle I was so desperate to be free from because for the first time in a long time, I don’t feel like I’m homeless or just passing through. I am home. A word which I ascribe to the feeling of security and stability. I don’t use the term home lightly and have only prescribed it to people before this summer, and I am so thankful for the change, which seems to be the main constant in my life. I don’t know the entirety of what the end of this year holds, much less the future, but I believe that facing it with an open heart and an attitude of gratitude- that most people only acquire for the holidays- could carry us a long way.