In my 46 years of life, I can't remember a more trying time than what we're living through right now. Our country has been through hard times before but 2020 has seen more hardships than should be allowed. A pandemic that won't go away. Kids forced out of schools. Citizens dying from a virus we can't get under control. And just for good measure, a derecho for residents in Eastern Iowa. But make no mistake about it. Even in the darkest of times, we still have ample reasons to give thanks.

Each person's reasons for being thankful are personal, and my list will be no different. What I have experienced this year, while similar to you, may not reflect what you have gone through. I want to start off by being thankful for my families health. Four out of the five people living in our  home have contracted coronavirus this year. All four of us were able to recover with little or no issues. We consider ourselves incredibly lucky. There are over 2,200 Iowans who have lost their lives to this virus. The number goes up every day. I am thankful that none of my relatives with pre-existing conditions have contracted the virus. We'll continue to do our part and celebrate Thanksgiving this week apart from them.

I am thankful to be employed. This virus, and this economy have claimed many jobs and produced suffering on a level like I've never seen. We all likely know people who have lost their job, or had their hours cut in 2020. Some have made it back. Others won't. I'm grateful I still get to wake up each morning and come in and do something that I still love doing. I pray that 2021 will provide new and better opportunities for anyone who may have lost their job this year. I pray our leaders will pass more legislation soon to help this group of people.

I'll conclude with the thing I'm most thankful for this year, and every year. My family. This year has tested the fabric of my family and most others. Trying to navigate health and safety regulations. Online learning at home. Holly starting a new job. A home being repaired after severe storm damage. Replacing two vehicles. None of these things are unique to my family, but they are all things we've gone through this year. But we've gone through them together. We try to balance the tears with moments of laughter. We try and provide our children with the things they need, and even sometimes the things they want. But most of all we try and look at life, and live it, through the eyes of our children. They're growing up right before our eyes. I can't think of a group of people I'd rather go through 2020 with than the ones I live with.

On this Thanksgiving holiday, I wish you and your families a blessed end to a tough year. Despite it's difficulties, I believe that any year is what you make it. Be thankful for what you have. Who you have. Pray for the less fortunate. Love your neighbor. Be a source of light in dark times. Someday we'll look back at 2020 and marvel at how far we've come.

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