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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: A Tiny Bloom Of Gratitude

This Thanksgiving, you might find yourself struggling for something to be thankful for.


It has been a hard year for everybody. COVID-19 has taken so much from so many: parents and children, spouses and lovers, colleagues and friends. Those left behind have to deal with losing their jobs and losing their minds. The election has made it clear that big chunks of Americans live in different worlds with different values based on different facts. And all this is happening while we go through a racial reckoning that was long overdue.

The ground under our feet feels like dust.

And because of the virus, many of us won’t be with our families for Thanksgiving. We won’t have those touchstones — our aunt’s special mac and cheese, the weird comfort of our old bedroom, the prayers around the table.

So what do we have to be thankful for?

I have turned my eyes to the smallest things.

There’s a row of bushes in our backyard. Our yard’s not that big, and the bushes take up a lot of room. I’ve told my wife three or four times over the years that we should just dig them up. But in the late fall, right about now, they start to bloom. I’m looking at them right now as I write.

yuletide camellia
Yuletide camellia

I had to Google to find out that they’re called yuletide camellias. Our flowers are purple with a gold center. I’ll be honest, I had never paid much attention to them, except to grumble about the bushes. But now, in this dung heap of a year, the flowers seem twice as beautiful as all the other years they’ve bloomed. Sometimes I just stare at them through the window.

There’s something in your life that can momentarily make you forget the hurricane around us. Maybe it’s a song that lifts your heart, or a dog in your lap, or the hand of a loved one.

In the worst days — in the worst years — there is always some small something to be thankful for. Even if it’s just a handful of flowers.

Next year, we hope, we can be thankful for the normal things again. But take those little moments of grace and beauty now. This year, they might be just enough.

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