Wide Awake: Thankful Thinking 
The weirdest time to write this column
By Marianne Aleardi

Over the past 2 years, I never once said I hadn’t gotten Covid, even though it was true. I totally believe words spoken out loud can jinx you. But I was starting to think I was a super dodger. And I kind of liked that. But yeah, you know what happened next.

When I tested positive, no one was more shocked than me. I spent 5 days in bed. Congested. Achy. Tired. Isolated. Bored out of my mind and not having fun. Toward the end when I had some energy, I thought it would be a great time to write. Isolation is the perfect setting for writing.

Since we were working on the Nov. issue, my column would be a list of what I’m thankful for. It has been for years. On this day though, it was a task I couldn’t quite wrap my Covid brain around. I know I should be shooting off lots of things I’m thankful for – like, say, being alive. I am very aware and very grateful for the mild case I had, the home I got to recover in, the friends who texted to see if I needed anything and the ability to respond, thanks, Joe has everything under control. But those weren’t the first things that crossed my mind. It definitely took me a minute.

And so, here in my Covid state of mind, is what I now know I am truly grateful for:

I had a disease many people died from. A few paragraphs up, I describe my experience as “not having fun.” I’m grateful it wasn’t worse, but also so very sad for the many heartbroken families.

For years, I have been thankful for my heated blanket, and after this week, that is holding strong.

Also after this week, I’m thankful for sweatpants & reality TV.

I’m thankful for the email I get every Friday from my photo storage app showing me a memory.

I’m thankful for Swedish Fish, which is funny because I probably haven’t had Swedish Fish for about 7 years. But last week I did. So yes, very thankful.

Still thankful for pancakes. Only now I’m thankful for gluten-free pancakes (when they taste good).

I’m thankful for the strong, strong support women in South Jersey give to each other. I’ve been on the receiving end of that, and I also try to be a participant as much as I can.

I’m thankful you can be in NYC in about 90 minutes. If you’re up for the car (or train) ride, you can go to dinner and a Broadway show on a Saturday night and then come home.

I’m thankful for corner tables in restaurants.

My garden gave me 2 tomatoes this season. Yes, I am grateful for those, but I was really hoping for way more. So on to next year. (And I’m always thankful for Toni Farmer who continues to be kind and patient as she teaches me how to garden for our Facebook series – “The Goal is to Become a Gardener.”)

I’m thankful for magical moments. We’ve had all kinds this year – some we planned, some just happened. In all of them, the same person is with me. I’m always thankful for Joe.

I’m about to end my first year as board chair for Oaks Integrated Care. I’m thankful there are people in the world who dedicate their lives to helping all kinds of people who need all kinds of help.

I’m thankful for bread and butter pickles.

I’m thankful for 3 daughters.

I’m thankful for stylish sneakers/loafers/whatever you want to call the comfortable shoes that are now acceptable to wear with dresses.

I’m thankful when I interviewed World Walker Tom Turcich he used the phrase “radically compassionate.” He said that’s how you should feel toward others.

I’m thankful you can find SJ Magazine’s print issues at the counter in Barnes & Noble.

This year, I was especially blown away by the response to my “Unparenting” and “Aging” columns. I’m thankful for the compliments. And knowing others relate – that’s just amazing.

This past week has driven home for me how incredibly wonderful it is to go out in the world, see friends, spend time with family. I’m talking about the simplest times in conversation or even in silence. Just being around other people. Just feeling air on your face and seeing the blue sky. Even after months in lockdown, I got back into the routine and forgot that. I just got reminded. And as crazy as this may be, I’m thankful for that.

November 2022
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