2020: The Year of Thanksgiving and Hope

2020.  The year that the use of the word “unprecedented,” became unprecedented.  The year where just about anything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  The year when the simple joys of life were suddenly taken away or forbidden.  The year when technology became our primary means of maintaining human contact.  So how could this possibly be the year of hope and giving “Thanks?” Granted, 2020 did not turn out to be the great beginning to a new decade we thought it would be – – but it brought more than what we dreamed was possible. 

Most of us would get up in the morning, get ready for work, get the kids off to school, and proceed with our day.  The greatest issue that plagued us was what to have for dinner, getting an assignment done, or meeting that work deadline.  As life passed, so did birthdays, holidays, and yet another year, leaving us wondering where the time had gone and how did our children grow up so fast.  Often times, we were left with the regret of not spending more time with loved ones, or paying closer attention to them.  This all changed when we had to work from home and really take part in our children’s education.  Yes, I know many of us spent the evenings just banging our heads on the wall in frustration, but we did develop a greater appreciation for our teachers.  More importantly, we managed to actually become involved in our children’s learning while learning more about our children.  We have been given an opportunity to become more involved in shaping the hope of our future.  As for loved ones, especially our elderly . . . I don’t think we will ever take them for granted again. 

We managed to get creative with our businesses and work environments.  We got pushed out of our comfort zones in order to accommodate the new lifestyle that was imposed upon us – – all driven by the hope that we could sustain what we had while hoping for growth and prosperity in the future.  Perhaps home offices and zoom meetings may have made us a little more comfortable than we should have been (i.e., pajama bottoms while on a call), but this was actually a dream come true for many.  After all, we eliminated the commute and took back some of our time! 

As for small entrepreneurs, I know that in my own little town, we formed community groups that actively promoted and shopped at our small businesses in hopes that we could keep those families alive and thriving.  I’m happy (and thankful) to say that we and they have so far, been successful.  I think we have also learned to never underestimate the work ethic of an entrepreneur and their small business – – they are the ones who have the will to transform themselves, no matter the circumstances, and accept failure as a challenge.  We also discovered that they are the ones who actually care, and give back to the community with gratitude.

Technology was forced upon us to keep up with the growing demand of distanced communication, learning and work.  The necessity of it never became more prominent than it did this year.  However, with the growing dependency upon it came the realization that we need to disconnect to regain our humanity.  The need to reconnect with ourselves, each other, and our surroundings made it blatantly clear that we have forgotten how to live.  In a sense, the demands for technology and its frequent failures has shown us that we need each other more – – that science was correct after all, and we need human contact for our physical and mental well being.

This leads us to the subject of vacation.  Having a vacation planned was the highlight of one’s year, and the opportunity to “disconnect.”  However, 2020 brought the shutdowns of our beloved theme parks, cruise lines, and other destinations.  Many of us were left to find more creative means to spend time with our loved ones and have that much needed break from not only work, technology, and the daily grind of life.  We celebrated the reopening of our theme parks which gave us the hope that the escape from the mundane, would eventually return again.  What we can really be thankful for is that we live in a country that has every type of climate (tropical, arid, temperate, cold and polar) and wonderful seasons all in one place that we can still explore.  Even though those beautiful cruise ships are not sailing yet, they are preparing to soon.  We are now left with the hope that we can still travel to amazing places across the landscape of our own great country. 

This year, we have actually learned to be grateful for things we once took for granted.  In a way, we have reset our perspectives and values.  We were forced to look at what was truly important, and reorder our lives.  We became more accommodating, learned to adapt, and perhaps, even to survive.  All of this is because of the hope that we will return to “normal.”  The question is, do we really want to?  Maybe, just maybe, we have rediscovered what it takes to truly live, and we will do so with a thankful heart for what we had all along.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Bensons and the entire Dreams by Design Travel Team!

Debbie Benson

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