It is the understatement of the year to say that this has been a difficult year. A contentious election cycle, pandemic, unemployment, wildfire, and civil unrest have been just a few of the themes that have dominated the news cycle and our daily lives for most of this year. It certainly was far from normal and many, if not all of us, long for some “normal.” We wonder what that normal will even look like going forward.

The losses have been tragic. Those who have lost loved ones to disease or violence. Those who have lost jobs or homes. There are reasons to mourn and long for something different. But as we have been so focused on the negative this year there is much to be grateful. There is an old proverb that took its current form from the 1878 Margaret Wolfe Hungerford novel Molly Brown – that states “in the eye of the beholder.”

The notion is that there are multiple ways of looking at things. The pandemic has no doubt impacted our daily lives and while it has disrupted employment it has also given time back to families. One of my best opportunities arising from this is that most family relationships have strengthened. We spent more time together and built stronger bonds. I do have several elderly family members – one in assisted living – and have been unable to see her, but we’ve dropped off care packages and stayed in touch via phone … yet another sacrifice. Yes, it is difficult, the economy has changed, some jobs and businesses are gone forever, but the pandemic gave us time. It gave us time together, something that business as usual did not provide.

Civil unrest has dominated as the country grapples with race relations. We are reminded that although we have made progress since the days of slavery, there is much to do. We can be better. We can be more inclusive. We have room to grow in the framework of equality. Too often we self-identify – but we must remember we are all AMERICANS — we are in this together and we all deserve and should expect better.

Wildfires have touched large portions of the west and have been dramatic. It was heartbreaking to see charred earth littered with burnt vehicles and scorched foundations in these areas. I manage a property in Paradise and saw that devastation first hand immediately following. Much was lost. But what I also saw was neighbor helping neighbor, with individuals locally and nationally banding together to help their fellow American. I was able to participate in a documentary-drama with citizens whereas proceeds went to fire victims; a rewarding experience for sure.

It is easy to focus on the negative. To underscore the problems and how those problems have disrupted our lives. When we do, we miss the opportunity that the problem presents. I have a saying and it has never been more true than this year – “there is no such thing as a loss, there is only an opportunity to improve.”

It’s “in the eye of the beholder” and we are grateful. We are grateful, for the times we were able to spend with family. We are grateful for those whose families that are growing (multiple staff members have babies due early next year). We are grateful for the opportunities that these difficulties have created. We choose to be grateful that in a year of difficulties, we have our health and the ability to help others. We are thankful that you continue to trust us to be your resource for legal issues. On this Thanksgiving Day, even though it may not seem like it – Yes, there is much to be grateful and thankful for and I choose to be grateful.

I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!