It’s been a tough year. Who would have thought, even 10 months ago, that most of the world would be locked in the grips of a pandemic unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetimes? No matter where we live in the world, we are all walking through life so more slowly and carefully this year. Social distancing, masks, and staying home have become ways of life as we try to stay safe. We all suffer from COVID fatigue; add in the stress from social, political, economic and other personal concerns, and we are all just tired.
As 2020 dawned, we all probably had many plans—trips, weddings, parties, celebrations, and more—for the year. The pandemic brought those plans to a screeching halt. It’s easy to look at these challenges as depressing, but if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that we sometimes overlook the things that really matter—family, friends, good health, and other the little things that are really the most important things. We can postpone the trips, weddings, and celebrations, but we cannot replace the people who are critical parts to our lives. I am forever grateful for all of the people and things that really make a difference in my life.
As the holiday season approaches and Thanksgiving gives us time to reflect on that for which we can be grateful even in this year full of challenges, I asked a number of IFWTWA members to share the things they’re thankful for with all of you.
Every day, I am grateful that all of us are healthy. And today, my heart is filled with joy knowing that somewhere a family will have a nice Thanksgiving with the turkey, fresh vegetables and fruits, and other goodies I donated to our local food pantry.
Like Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers. Haven’t we all? This Thanksgiving, I’m especially grateful to those who have extended kindness and compassion to others as we learn how to navigate a new mask-wearing, socially-distant world together.
Two and a half years ago I packed up the bikinis (Ha!) and sundresses, collected from 30 years of living at the beach in Southern California, and headed to the hills. The Ozark hills of Northwest Arkansas, that is. In this year of the pandemic when we citizens are strongly encouraged to stay at home and do things outside, I am grateful to live in an area surrounded by nature with magnificent vistas of lakes, bluffs, and waterfalls just a hike away.
Jan M. Smith
Although 2020 was an incredibly challenging year, I am thankful for the gift of time, which allowed me to experience three national parks with my family, including my sweet baby granddaughter. I am grateful that my family and friends remain healthy each day, and I’m hopeful for a better 2021.
Sometimes you need to be reminded that KISS can also apply to travel. Keep it Simple, Stupid. This summer, beach glass, a tent, family, campfires and Ontario’s Provincial Parks were all we needed to build memorable adventures and keep a love of travel alive. Sleeping on the ground as a lightning storm flashed outside, discovering meandering trails in the forest, those 2 a.m. dark sky constellation walks, and collecting beach glass together were all grace notes in 2020. While I will be thrilled when the pandemic is over and we can explore the world again, finding magic outdoors in Ontario is something that filled my bucket this year.
Living in my single-person household, I am thankful for Zoom to connect with the world during the pandemic. Using this technology, I met a wine shop manager and writer in Denmark who has since become my best friend, media partner, and inspiration to learn Danish using Duolingo.
Although 2020 has been a tough year with Covid, family with broken bones and illness, and the loss of loved ones, I will always be thankful for my family. Whether we are in Tuscany as shown in this photo, at my son Will’s home in Colorado Springs, or here in The Woodlands with my son Jacob and my lovely wife Julie, I always have so much to be thankful for. I am truly blessed.
I am thankful for the sun rising each day as I look forward to our move and the next chapter in our lives. Having a roof over our head and plenty of food in our stomach is always something we are thankful for.
I’m thankful for Michigan’s great outdoors. Some of its remote destinations have been great places to safely get fresh air and exercise during the times when social distancing was a necessity. I can be at a distance without traveling far.
I am thankful for the ability to travel. When we locked down, I was so sad for the world, and scared about the virus. I mourned the loss of my own travel plans but found solace in the travel community. The shared photos of past experiences and hopeful travel discussions bonded us. It gave a much needed window during dark days.
The virus froze time, locking everything in place. As I spent my housebound summer clearing trees toppled by a fast-hitting derecho, and removing an overgrown hedgerow to expand an orchard, I was thankful for the dewy mornings with mockingbird song and the lonesome train whistle promising better days.
I am thankful for the opportunity to travel and work remotely. Although this year has presented challenges, I’m grateful that I am able to do what I love…photograph beautiful places and people and share my stories with the world.
I am grateful for fresh eggs and chickens! Since we can’t travel, we bought baby chicks last May and are now getting 3-4 lovely eggs each day!
I’m grateful to Julio Palmaz, the inventor of the first commercially available stent. Without coronary stents, I—and millions of other people—wouldn’t be alive today. I am also grateful to modern medicine and doctors, nurses and medical care workers who have dedicated their lives to humanity.
I’m grateful for living in the beautiful Sonoran Desert of Arizona and for my wonderful husband with whom I can share its outdoor activities all year round.
In 2020 I am especially grateful for an organization: The Trustees . Preserving over 27,000 acres on over 100 special properties in Massachusetts, the Trustees has provided open space and stewardship for beautiful environments where visitors can safely enjoy nature, clear our heads and resolve to keep our sanity in a year unlike any other.
I am thankful to be able to wander aimlessly through the lovely and well-maintained Sherman Gardens. It is located right in the heart of bustling Corona del Mar in Southern California.
I’m so thankful for our family and that after my father-in-law passed away, we took a multi-generational trip to Disney’s Aulani in Oahu with my mother-in-law. It was her first visit (a long-time wish) and an unforgettable memory. Our family vacations together are moments we truly cherish!
My husband and I will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner at home, just the two of us. As much as I’ll miss our family around the festive table, I’m thankful that my husband and I still enjoy each other’s company after 46 years. Bon Appetit!
I’m grateful for my first grandchild, Barrett Farrow Lowery. This blue-eyed and bald-headed baby joined the planet on July 6, 2020, in the midst of a harrowing global pandemic. He may never know how anxiously his parents and grandmother awaited his birth. He will know he is cherished.
Valerie Fortney Schneider
Last Thanksgiving sucked as it was the first without my mom. This year, I thought, had to be better, but…2020. Despite the wringing-out this year has brought me, I am thankful for my always-united family (even from afar), for my home (my sanctuary), and wine. I’m really thankful for wine.
I am thankful for my grandchildren, Hank and Dakota, and their Google Duo face-to-face calls. They live a mile away, but we are social distancing right now since one of Hank’s classmates has COVID. I’m grateful for their messages like this. (Click link for cuteness.) beb38c15-500d-4d36-bda9-8748dfaaa078
I’m grateful for my 91-year-old mother who is in great health! (On the left with me at her 90th birthday celebration.)
I am thankful for my health, family and friends through these challenging times. I’m inspired by the innocence of a new puppy and the pure joy she has brought my daughter and my 94-year-old mother.
Wendy Van Hatten
I am thankful for cats and grandkids.
During this time, I am thankful for the communication provided through technology. FaceTime and Zoom have helped me weather this storm.
Remembering that these challenging times are all part of the journey, I am grateful to the positive attitude I have maintained. I look forward to the road ahead that I share with family, friends and my dogs who bring a smile to my face on a daily basis.
I am so thankful that Mother Nature continues to shine and that our pets never cease loving us. This year has deepened my appreciation for the simple things in life and the joy of just being still and reflecting on the beauty around me.
I am thankful that my family who live on four different continents are all healthy and safe, and I am thankful that I am a citizen of the USA, living in a lovely condo in one of the most beautiful States and want for nothing.
I’m thankful to be on my first press trip, an individual one, tracking William Bartram’s adventures in West Volusia County, Florida. He was one of America’s first naturalists.
Debbra Dunning Brouillette
I am grateful for travel memories… Even though we haven’t been able to travel outside the U.S. this year, I’m often reminded of past trips through Facebook Memories, and I enjoy reliving experiences through my photos. It helps me realize how blessed I have been, as I look forward to making new travel memories in 2021.