This month, as we celebrate Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and then Giving Tuesday, I hope we can find some time to reflect on the things we are most grateful for and express gratitude to all those that matter to us.  As we now enter into our third round of holidays with COVID, although life may have returned to “normal” for some, there are many that are still struggling to recover from drastic changes to their lives either financially, socially or physically as a result of this prolonged pandemic coupled with historic inflation and global uncertainty.

In past years, this would be the time where I would start to stress about holiday plans, parties, cards and gifts, however, in recent years I’ve learned to just streamline and simplify.  November has become my month of gratitude, starting with Veteran’s Day, which has taken on a whole new meaning this year with a partner, who is veteran that lost several friends during his years in service.  The sacrifices our troops and their families make are far more profound than what most of us civilians can begin to imagine, and meanwhile most of the services available to assist veterans as they transition to civilian life are severely lacking as evidenced by their suicide rate, which is double the rate of non-veteran adults.

There’s so much that we take for granted, including our freedom and safety.  As the holidays approach, I would encourage you to come up with a list of people you want to express gratitude to and causes you want to support, either by volunteering or through donations.  Put pen to paper, and then truly make a concerted effort to act on the intentions you set forth as almost a year-end goal that is completely selfless.  In the meantime, if you find yourself feeling anxious remind yourself to keep it all in perspective.  Here are a few things I try to keep in mind:

1. Health– Too often we take our good health for granted. At this point in my life, many of my friends are starting to struggle to stay healthy, and some have even passed away, so if my biggest complaint is that I am about to start menopause, I really need to shut my mouth and count my blessings.

2. Family & Friends– I am lumping these together because I do believe friends are the family you choose. Our loved ones are there for us during the best of times, and the worst. They listen, console, love, help, and support us as best they can. We may not always be able to connect, but especially this time of year we should try to reach out and acknowledge the important role these people play in our lives.

3. Safety– If you live in nice home (with a fridge full of food) in a safe area, where your kids can go to a good school and have access to proper medical care, then you are well ahead of the game compared to so many in this world that do not have these basic needs met.

4. Work– Whether you enjoy your job or not, if it at least allows you to comfortably support yourself and your family, then this in itself should be acknowledged as something that shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Those of us that are fortunate enough to have careers that interest us and give us a sense of purpose need to be extra grateful for this privilege that is not shared by many.

5. Spirituality–  When we experience trying times, those of us that believe in a higher power that will ultimately balance things out, right the wrongs, and help restore our faith in justice and mankind, will have a much easier time finding inner peace and overcoming setbacks.  Faith does help heal deep wounds, and it allows us to move forward with hope even during our darkest chapters.

As we wrap up this year, try to focus on the good and forget the bad.  Embrace positive thinking and challenge yourself to streamline and simply as much as you can so you too can enjoy some peace and quality time with your loved ones this holiday season.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.