Chaotic Thankfulness

Finding joy in the midst of the turmoil

I am writing this on Election Day in the United States. It is early in the day and votes have not really started to be counted and reported. Anxiety and tensions are high, but this is only the beginning. Today is going to be a tumultuous day in American.

I have to go to the store to get ingredients for making dinner. I have no desire to do so. The past week has shown the ugliest side of people everywhere I go. The patients coming into our offices have started to get more and more belligerent and resistant to the rules. The other day, I was standing in line to pay for some grapes and the person behind me crowded so closely that I could smell their breath. That rancid odor of booze, coffee, morning breath, and unbrushed teeth. I turned to ask them to move back a couple of steps because they were literally shoving me into the person’s cart in front of me and, with their Trump 2020 mask around their chin, they just gave me a look that screamed hatred.

We are truly living through history. My grandkids will be learning about this year in their history classes. It will not be long before there will actually be college courses devoted solely to 2020. Elections, pandemics, the potential for World War 3, terror attacks, civil unrest, all on a global scale.

It has been reported that people are asking for medical help with mental illness-related issues in numbers never seen before.

As a society, we are not handling the isolation and stress well.

Now, here we are, entering November, and the month that brings us Thanksgiving. One of the popular internet challenges during this month is to post one thing each day that you are thankful for every day leading up to the holiday. Three days in, and I have not seen a single one of those yet. This does not mean that people are not thankful. Rather, it points to a larger issue that we are all so tired and stressed and depressed and isolated, that it has become challenging to stay positive and thankful. We have been trying to do so every single day since February, and we feel spent.

We tend to view being thankful as something neat and tidy. Clean cut. A happy and joyous practice. Our Thanksgiving dinners are served on the best plates and we put more effort into them than maybe we do any other meal all year long. We dress nicely and try to be on our best behavior.

We should take a different approach this year. Let our Thanksgiving dinners be well-thought-out and put together, but let us also be rustic about it. Forget the fine china and the khaki pants. Wear sweat pants and eat on paper plates.

Let your thankfulness be a chaotic thankfulness.

Everything is turned upside down. We have not seen our friends in months. Our kids have largely been home from school. Some of us are still not back to work or have lost our jobs completely. Whole industries have basically shut down and our investment portfolios have little value.

Be honest with yourself and admit that things are not okay.

Once you have done that, find something to be thankful for. Your house is messier than it has ever been before. Because everyone has been home all the time. But you see that empty spot where you were able to put the mixing bowl for the cornbread you made? At least that was there. Be thankful for it.

You found a random old coffee cup in a weird cupboard you never look in cuz all your favorite ones were dirty and you were out of dish soap. It has a chip in it, but it works. Be thankful for it.

Your kid took a massive dump and clogged the toilet. But you found some Drano under the sink you forgot you had, and that took care of the problem and the toilet did not completely overflow and you did not have to use a plunger. Be thankful for that.

You had to go to the store and you found a clean bra, even though it is an old one with a broken underwire, but it was clean even though you haven’t done laundry in two weeks. Be thankful for that.

Let your thankfulness be every bit as chaotic as this year has proven to be.


This has been a wild year, and being thankful can be hard. If you need help getting to a place of thankfulness, email me at or visit me on Facebook.



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Jeremy Zerby

Jeremy Zerby

Hermeneutics, religion, pop psychology, self-help, and culture. They are all connected, and I am here to explain how.