What Are You Grateful For? Finding Hope in a Tumultuous Year

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Though it may be cliché to note at this point in the year, 2020 has been a wild—and at times, demoralizing—roller coaster ride. Between a global pandemic and a national election that grabbed our attention for all the wrong reasons, finding glimmers of positivity can be a difficult ask.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and considering the fact that many won’t be able to see their extended families during this holiday season, we asked AHA staff to reflect on what makes them feel grateful. As you’ll see below, there are still many things to be thankful for as the year draws to a close.

This Thanksgiving, I’m very grateful for FaceTime and Zoom, which will allow me and my husband to see family in the Midwest. I’m thankful that as a country we came together in the recent election to end a national nightmare—and that a vaccine for COVID-19 is just around the corner. And of course, I’m grateful for the food! I love to cook, so I’m looking forward to a day in the kitchen making my favorite dishes. We’re cooking for only two this year, so there will be many leftovers, and I have absolutely no problem with that.

—Sharon McGill, Art Director


While caveats abound: On the planetary level, I’m grateful the world is uniting to overcome this deadly pandemic, just as I’m grateful our country’s democracy was strong enough to overcome the threat of fascism. I’m grateful to live in a vibrant, diverse city tuned in to the importance of politics and almost universally standing against hate. With the incoming Biden-Harris administration more friendly to our movement, I’m excited about humanism’s prospects to achieve greater prominence. Most of all, I’m grateful to have a loving family including my youngest daughter who is succeeding through her struggles with the pressures of the pandemic, my oldest daughter who recently beat stage four cancer and is thriving at college, and my brilliant wife who sustains me more than I can imagine.

—Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director


As we reflect on the past year, it can feel hard to be thankful for anything at all, and that’s okay. But I also think that’s why it’s especially important to verbalize gratitude when we do feel it. Gratitude doesn’t erase struggles, it helps us define them and keeps us going. So this year, I am most grateful for the things I am privileged to have. I’m grateful for a roof over my head; for the health of my family and friends and for the ability to connect with them virtually; for healthcare professionals and essential workers who are keeping us all going during the pandemic; for the scientists who will see us through it; and for everyone working toward a more just and equitable world. We have a long way to go, but there’s still hope for a promising future—as long as we work for it—and that’s perhaps what I’m most grateful for of all.

—Meredith Thompson, Development Associate


Although I’m very disappointed that I won’t be able to spend this Thanksgiving with my father for the first time in my life, I am grateful that I will be with my sister, brother-in-law and nephews for the holiday (since they live nearby and I have been bubbling with them during the pandemic) and that all of us have, so far, remained healthy. I am also very grateful to the scientists who are working to bring us promising vaccines in the coming months so that we can all be with extended family as soon as possible.

—Nicole Carr, Director of Development


I’ve always been grateful to restaurant employees, especially having worked in a diner one summer, but I am even more appreciative of their dedication this year throughout the pandemic. Restaurants have provided essential items like toilet paper, extended their delivery services, developed contactless ways to serve, donated to communities in need, and created lovely outdoor expansions. The winter and new wave of COVID cases will bring more challenges, so I will be even more grateful to restaurants for staying open.

—Emily Newman, Education Coordinator


This Thanksgiving season, I am most grateful for Southern California’s version of “winter” which will allow me to be comfortably outside in a sweater. I’m grateful for my new deck which will allow me to responsibly see friends in-person, yet-distanced. I’m grateful that [at least our executive branch of] government appears to be heading back in the direction of sanity. And I’m grateful that, despite discouraging headlines and tweets, progress continues in the areas of science and social justice.

—Peter Bjork, Web Content Manager & Managing Editor


Um, a job! 🙂

—Ron Holley, Program Assistant