Finding Gratitude this Thanksgiving


The Thanksgiving spirit has inspired many to be grateful this year.

2020 has been a whirlwind of a year – students and staff have been faced with devastating headline after headline, from the pandemic to the political. Most recently, students have been informed that school will be online for the foreseeable future. In a time where many feel hopeless, and as the year comes to an end and Thanksgiving approaches, it is important to remember to give thanks.

English teacher David Miles practices conscious gratitude:

“This idea came from my wife, who suggested that we share one thing that we are grateful for during dinner every day of November since Thanksgiving comes later this month. The item can be something big or something small, as long as we are expressing gratitude for something,” said Miles.  

Mental health is on a decline, with youth mental health worsening and anxiety skyrocketing, as reported by Mental Health America. Scientific studies completed by the Berkeley Wellness Center, Harvard Health, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital have shown that gratitude can have an immense improvement in mental health. Nationwide Children’s Hospital states that showing gratitude has a variety of health benefits, including mood improvements, strengthening social bonds, and even improving one’s physical health.

“I recently shared that I am grateful for my wife’s caring nature…Other items of gratitude include our dog, Max, and finding candy corn on sale the day after Halloween,” continued Miles. “I firmly believe that if you intentionally practice gratitude regularly, you will lead a happier and more fulfilling life. As I recently told my classes during my ‘launch’ to end my class, ‘”Make your attitude one of gratitude!'”

For many people, gratitude has been simultaneously easier and more difficult to find this year. On one hand, this year has been filled with struggles, but on the other, it’s helped teach people to be grateful for the smaller things. Subjects of gratitude don’t have to be momentous, or even tangible things.

Suggestions from Harvard Health on how to cultivate gratitude.

“I’m grateful for my family and friends and just new experiences that I get to have,” said sophomore Kyleigh Vigil. “It’s super important to be grateful, not just in these unexpected times but throughout life because life is a gift that can go any second. Nothing is promised but the gifts we already have. So we must be thankful for those.”

Clubs such as No Place for Hate and Link Crew have both organized activities that inspire gratitude, with No Place for Hate organizing A Week of Gratitude this past week and Link Crew putting together a Gratitude Tree. 

“Link Leaders have been working really hard this year to boost morale around Air Academy. For Thanksgiving week, we have a great team of leaders who decided we should give back to those we are thankful for in the form of a Gratitude Tree,” said Maille O’Neil, math teacher, and Link Crew sponsor. 

The Gratitude Tree has received 171 submissions so far. 

“I think the importance of being grateful this year is banding together during this pandemic and supporting each other as much as we can,” said O’Neil. “I’m grateful for my family and friends who bring me laughter every day. I’m also grateful for my coworkers and amazing students – you make teaching in a pandemic so much better!” 

Certainly, this Thanksgiving will look different. The Center for Disease Control has advised against large gatherings and as such,  many will be estranged from the relatives, family, and friends usually seen around these times. Although for many students the holiday will not look the same, there is still much to be thankful for, whether it is participating in school-held events or simply being thankful for the things around oneself, a bit of Thanksgiving tradition can be upheld.