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Wide Awake: The Annual List
In 2020, what exactly am I thankful for?
By Marianne Aleardi

A few weeks ago, I said to our editor Jayne Feld, “November’s column is my annual list of what I’m thankful for.” We both had this same look of dread on our faces. She actually looked more like: wow, glad I don’t have to write that.

In years past, I worried I wouldn’t be able to come up with a list that would fill the page. But when I sat down to write, things like “cherry Lifesavers” and “umbrellas that aren’t broken” quickly popped into my head and the page was filled. Thankfully.

But this is different. It’s 2020.

When a year is so bad – worse than ever before – is it possible to think of things you’re thankful for? And even if you can, should you? A list of what you’re grateful for makes you feel good, because you see how lucky and blessed you are. I’m not sure I want to feel that way when so many people continue to face incredibly difficult times.

It’s funny, because the whole time I was writing that last paragraph, there was this voice inside my head saying, “Of course you can make the list. In fact, it’s important that you do.” I could hear my mother saying that to me. And it’s something I would say to my daughters.

Of course, the list will be different this year, because suddenly broken umbrellas aren’t a big deal. In 2020, a list like this becomes all the reasons to have hope that life will get better. Even when the world seems dark, there are these moments of glimmer. That’s what I’m listing. The specs of light.

So here it goes: I’m thankful my family is healthy. We lost my uncle and my next-door neighbor to Covid, so we know deeply the pain of loss.

A member of my extended family had a cancer diagnosis, treatment and is now cancer-free. I’m thankful we have such expert medical care so close to home. I’m thankful for board games, old and new. The boredom during quarantine brought out Twister, a game I haven’t played since…I don’t even know when. But I played, and I didn’t get injured. Another reason to be thankful.

I’m thankful for my garden – a project I never imagined I could complete. But I now have a zillion jalapeño peppers. I also have 20,000+ people who watched my journey with Toni Farmer on Facebook. I’m thankful for everyone who watched.

I’m thankful for the slow down of everyday life, and that surprises me.

In the early days of lockdown, I started to think of my home as an oasis that was warm and safe. I’m thankful I have that oasis, but I’m aware that many, many people don’t. Many people aren’t warm in their house, and some aren’t safe.

I’m thankful my mom listened to us when we told her to not leave her home. It had to be really hard to be alone day after day.

I’m thankful for the staff at SJ Magazine who pivoted big time to continue publishing monthly issues that were interesting and informative during a most unusual time. We had to change all planned editorial with about 2 weeks notice. We’re proud of the issues we put out, and we’ve gotten wonderful feedback.

Which brings me to our readers. During quarantine, we had calls from readers checking to see if the magazine and staff were all ok. That really blew us away. One reader emailed us to say reading the magazine “was a breath of fresh air during these trying times.” And another told us he donated to the Harriet Tubman Museum after reading our article in August.

I will also be forever grateful to our advertisers, who stuck with us even though they may have been closed or were experiencing a dramatic loss of business. I will always remember how it felt when our colleagues supported us, and I will support them in return.

We feel such a connection to our readers and advertisers. South Jersey is filled with people who are helping each other when it’s most needed. We love writing about our community, because we love the people here. On behalf of everyone at SJ Magazine, thank you for reading us, for sticking with us and for supporting us. You remind us every day how much there is to be thankful for here in South Jersey.

November 2020
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