This realist is thankful

Gray Hughes

Life, to me, seems pretty bleak right now.

I would never call myself an optimist, but I don’t consider myself to be a pessimist, either. To paraphrase the Latin teacher in “Dead Poets Society,” I’m not a cynic but rather a realist.

I call things as I see them, and right now I’m pretty discouraged for a number of reasons I won’t bore you with. That’s why it’s been so hard for me to write this column about what I’m thankful for this year.

But the more and more I thought about it, the more and more I realized that I had more to be thankful for this year than any other year in the past. You see, in the past I would take the “little things” for granted — the things that we wouldn’t take into account had we not stared into the abyss as a state, as a nation and as a world and have it stare right back at us.

I’m not doing that this year, though.

For example, one of my favorite bands released a live album on Friday. Normally, I’d be excited about this, but this was different. I don’t think I realized what listening to live music would do for my psyche until I heard this album. It was an hour of bliss. I’m writing this column while listening to the album. And trust me when I tell you that it’s one of the happiest I’ve felt all year.

I took for granted sports, one of my favorite things in life. I took for granted that I could turn on the TV and watch a game pretty much whenever I was home. That, as you all know, was different this year as there were no sports from mid March until July. This was a long, long period. I honestly can’t remember how I filled my time during that stretch, but I was probably doing something productive rather than yelling at my TV because Carson Wentz has thrown another interception.

But you know what? I’ll gladly take watching my teams stink than not having sports. And I will never take sports for granted again.

In years past, I didn’t take into account that I’m healthy, I have a roof over my head, a fridge full of food, a job that fulfills me and an unbelievable support system around me. A lot of people this year lost those things or are going to lose those things if action isn’t taken by Congress. But I have all of those things.

I’ve never been healthier. I wrote about my weight loss recently, and I’m so thankful that I was able to get to a healthy weight for the first time in over 15 years.

And, hopefully, other people will have their health again. As you know, effective vaccines are being produced. I don’t know when we’ll be able to get our own COVID vaccine, but, realistically, this time next year people across the country will be able to spend the holidays together because this virus will be managed to the point that lockdowns and travel bans won’t be needed.

I have a roof over my head. I moved earlier this year into a house that we were able to buy. It is the perfect house. Unlike my house that I was renting, the heat works efficiently, the windows aren’t from the 1970s and my car doesn’t get stuck in the driveway when it snows (or just completely went off the driveway and into my neighbors yard, which happened more times than I care to admit).

And, in this house is a refrigerator that has food. Granted, it doesn’t have everything that I want, but that’s definitely a good thing. No, it might not have what I want (in other words: stocked full of Coke), but it has what I need: fruits, veggies, healthy meal options and chicken and turkey meat. In a year that has taught us to prioritize what matters, that’s exactly what we’ve done, and it is no more obvious than our fridge — really no frivolous purchases but still filled with exactly what we need.

I have a job that I like and that fulfills me. In the past, I would take that for granted. Now, though? I know how lucky I truly am. People lost their jobs this year across the country. Newspapers weren’t spared, which, sadly, is a reality that we have to deal with in the newspaper world as layoffs are common not just during the pandemic but also just in general. I feel safe here, though. I don’t know what the future holds, but right now I feel very solid and safe.

Finally, my support system around me is the best. From my company and the Hill City community to my family and friends, I truly feel supported. And, right now, that’s all that matters.

So, in a year when things may seem bleak and it’s hard to give thanks, listen to this realist and realize we have a lot we are thankful for this year.

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