Season of Thanks - Even in 2020
By Lisa Adams Walter
As the season has deftly changed from summer to fall, I cannot help but find myself reflecting upon the months that have passed this year. In the past we have had annual events, sporting seasons, family get-togethers, holiday celebrations and other traditions that are markers that spark both memories and emotions, as well as the current moment in time.
Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, we have not experienced the same markers in 2020, and it is very likely that it will also not be so in the rapidly arriving new year. Instead, every single month since this past March, I instead think about what “this time of year” would typically be.
Without the same longstanding annual events and traditions, we have all been feeling a little bit lost. Perhaps even a tad unsure of the day or month, though we all are keenly aware of this particular year.
Our community has also been tested with the ongoing wildfires and what in wine country has now come to be known as “fire season.” CAL FIRE states that the fire season in California and across the West is starting earlier and ending later each year, referencing climate change as a key driver of this trend.
Realizing that we are all in this for the long haul, I have decided to instead focus on what we have, as well as what we have been able to continue to enjoy.
From now on, for me, whatever the future may bring, November will mark the “Season of Thanks.” Whether at the Thanksgiving table (hopefully with a safe, small group of loved ones) or because we will all be able to virtually high-five making it through 2020, this is indeed the time of year when we can each pause, take a look back and find something for which we can, and should, remain extremely grateful.
There are a multitude of scientific studies, sourced from researchers ranging from the University of California at Davis to the University of Pennsylvania to UC Berkeley, that have resulted in evidence of the benefits of gratitude.
Benefits include improvement of mental health, increased happiness, release of toxic emotions, potential physical health benefits, a higher quality of sleep, improved relationships and stress reduction.
How can you practice gratitude? Here are some tips:
• When being grateful, it can be public or personal. Your gratitude does not have to be shared, yet feel free to share if for you it makes sense.
• The simplest things often mean the most. For example, be grateful that the sun came up.
• Give thanks every day. Whether you practice religion, desire to thank others, or appreciate the universe, make it part of your routine.
• Reach out, connect, write notes or send texts and email messages. People will love to hear from you.
• Seek the opportunities in challenges and mistakes.
In my personal “Season of Thanks” these are some things for which I am extremely grateful, that you may also recognize and for which you may also be thankful.
• Napa Valley Wine Country – I have been fortunate to see quite a bit of this world, all over the United States and from Europe to Asia. We live in a stunningly beautiful place. There really is no place like home.
• The Downtown Napa parklets – that have allowed restaurants to safely continue to operate with expanded outdoor seating.
• Giving thanks for the dozens of local non-profits that are doing so much to help those less fortunate.
There are many members of our Napa Valley community with high needs. Organizations that nurture, feed and support our neighbors include NEWS, the Boys & Girls Clubs, Feeding It Forward, Salvation Army, Abode Services, Feed Napa Now and COPE Family Services.
• Clear skies – whether overcast or blue.
• Fresh fall produce and provisions abundant in farmer’s markets and grocery stores this time of year.
• Educators that continue to revamp and revise the former systems to teach students of all ages.
• Delivery services that make so many things nearly, instantly available at our front doors.
• Cal Fire for doing their absolute best to control and extinguish the fire and save as many structures and properties as possible, when faced with insurmountable odds.
• Ever so grateful for technology – which is keeping us connected, personally and professionally.
• Caregivers and frontline workers. There is a very positive guy that works at Safeway that says to every departing shopper, “Have a blessed day!” That’s the spirit!
• Work and colleagues, even with all of the changes and the remote work, people that show me that they care.
• The sunflowers and zinnias that continue to bloom in my garden. They literally make me smile every single day.
• Last, but certainly not least, I am grateful for my small bubble of family, neighbors and friends. They are the ones that make it all worthwhile.