Normally my eldest daughter has her tree up by Thanksgiving. It’s major decorations are our handwritten notes. These are the blessings we are most grateful for that year. The pen and paper is at each place setting. By the time we’ve worked through the meal and finished the last crumb of chocolate pie our notes are ready to be hung on “the blessing tree.”

This year has been a ball of unusual. Nothing is normal or traditional.. No gathering or chocolate pie. But the blessings we are grateful for should be noted. Somewhere in the gray shroud of 2020 were rays of light.

Sadly, I have watched the grief stricken faces of six friends as death stole their loved ones. Last year my eldest daughter and I were planning to attend the family dinner at Medicalodge. My husband was excited to share the holidays with us. Trapped in his wheel chair outside trips were nearly impossible. Yet, the lodge was very sensitive to the needs of her residents, bringing the holidays to them. In three short months he was gone.

We were blessed to have him in our lives. There were 45 years of shared memories. He was blessed by the release from his wasted body, death came quickly. These empty chairs at the table are the symbols of blessings in our lives. In heaven he’s sitting down with his parents, grandparents, his cousin Rick and all those he had longed to see. Jesus sits at the head of the table sharing his happiness.

Our health can be a blessing. My eldest daughter’s family survived the virus, my son’s family also came through. That is a blessing. My doctors, a couple of years ago, condemned me to death. I had tumors, so I automatically had cancer. One kidney doctor walked in, and started talking about removing my kidney. I declined.

That was a horribly hard summer driving endlessly to Columbia’s teaching hospital. Now, my doctor apologizes for their assumptions.

This month he told me my kidneys and liver were performing like a twenty year old. My asthma, diabetes and heart are doing good. My A1C is six. So a blessing for my health. Like Paul the hip and back are thorns in the flesh, but the flesh is healthy.

Then there is the weather, we have had brief cold snaps but on the whole its glorious. The furnace isn’t gulping propane. Another blessing. I keep it on 59 so I can stretch it out. Yes, the weather is a blessing also.

Tragically this hard, relentlessly spreading virus has brought many shadows on many levels. It’s reach is a long one affecting every aspect of our lives. Yet, we can be thankful. We can rejoice over the good, the memories and pray to our never changing Father in heaven that 2021 will bring renewal and joy to this beleaguered land. Happy Thanksgiving as you prepare your own blessing tree and capture the fleeting joys of 2020, and the hope of a brighter tomorrow.

-Sandy Jordan is an area writer and a founding editor of The Crowder Quill. She writes a weekly column, Bits and Pieces, for The Aurora Advertiser and The Neosho Daily News.