A month of grumpy gratitude 2020: day 1, getting started

Does it count as an annual tradition if I do something two years in a row?

I hope so, because calling something an annual tradition gives it so much more heft. So, it’s time to begin my annual tradition of daily grumpy gratitude during the month of December.

It hardly needs saying that this is a hard year for gratitude. 2020 sucks.

I don’t want to feel too grateful for the really big things. I don’t want to be too grateful for evading COVID19 so far, because nearly one and a half million humans have fallen to it. I don’t want to feel too grateful for the financial and familial stability I’ve been lucky enough to maintain, because so many humans have not been so lucky. That sort of gratitude feels more like… rubbing less fortunate folks’ noses in it. It feels less grateful and more grating. It feels ugly to experience anything more than simple relief.

So never mind that.

As I start this year’s gratitude journey, I was expecting it to be much easier, given how well therapy is going and the amount of energy I put into working on the gratitude thing. (Granted, it’s not a huge amount of energy, but it’s definitely non-trivial.) Gratitude would flow from my fingers and lift me in billowing clouds of puffy joy and beatific peacefulness. La la la la happy happy love love.

Yet as I sit here, stewing, I find myself right back where I’ve always been: feeling kind of pissy about the whole gratitude thing. It’s still a graft on my more permanent state of mind, hard-wired to cynicism, bitterness, and a general sense that people suck and I hate people. How can one look at the state of affairs in 2020 and feel any differently?

Well, there’s nothing for it but to wade in. Today I will raise my white flag of gratitude into the whistling winds of 2020 and say… I’m grateful that I haven’t screamed at my kids as much as I might have during this pandemic. In fact, I’ve hardly screamed at all, which is a significant bit of anecdotal evidence suggesting regular therapy really can change a person. I’m grateful that, although both my kids have expressed some heart-breaking existential thoughts involving their own potential (and in their own minds, possibly desirable) deaths, neither has attempted anything; and I’m right here, stuck in this house with them in quarantine lock-down, ready to pounce if any scary shit goes down.

There. Day one is done.

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