With so much suffering this year, it can feel awkward to talk (or write) about silver linings from the pandemic. Nonetheless, it can be helpful to think about them as part of a practice of gratitude.

Last week, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Morning Brew newsletter solicited from their readers what would be best described as silver linings from the pandemic. They reported receiving “lots of lovely messages about quality time with family, rediscovered hobbies, and positive career moves,” and published a few of their favorites, such as:

“Working from home almost 100% has provided me the opportunity to see my daughter walk for the first time (among many of her other firsts)!”

“I’m immunodeficient, and quarantine has been a godsend for me. The extra sanitization and screening procedures, wearing masks, and people washing their hands have all helped me to NOT be sick for the first time in DECADES.”

“I’ve fallen in love all over again with my Covid lockdown partner, my wife of 30+ years.”

“I’ve learned I can experience the same amount of joy from walking in my local neighborhood as visiting grand marvels like the Grand Canyon. More importantly, I have befriended a cardinal named Roy. He stares into my soul daily looking through my window when I am WFH.”

“Losing a job I hated brought me to a job I love where I am valued more than I thought imaginable in a career.”

Here are a few of my personal silver linings:

  • My son has lived in Detroit (we live in New Jersey, just outside of NYC) for over six years. Like so many, he and his girlfriend started working from home in mid-March. Towards the end of the summer, they decided, because WFH could mean nearly anywhere, they would spend some time on the east coast. They moved in with us for four weeks, and then into an apartment 20 minutes from us. It’s been a real treat to have them so near. We have taken hikes together, have had them over for outdoor, distanced dinners weekly, and they have been able to have many weekend visits with her parents in Pennsylvania.
  • We have had outdoor (mostly take-out-from-restaurants) dinners in our backyard (some with friends, some with our kids). In almost each instance, it was one couple in order to be able to properly distance. In “normal” times, we would have likely gotten together at a restaurant. We will miss those dinners  when the weather turns, which it will imminently, but we are happy to have realized how much we enjoy that experience, which we will continue post-pandemic. (We were even fortunate enough to have our kids over for an outdoor Thanksgiving, due to unseasonably mild weather.)
  • We have taken countless walks in local neighborhoods and hikes in beautiful nearby parks we had never been to.
  • As so many people have done, we have had numerous Zooms with family and friends. I suspect we will continue several of them post-pandemic, especially two with dear friends who live in other parts of the country (in one case, two of my college buddies and our wives; in the other, five of my high school best friends.) Weekly Zooms with my kids and parents have become a wonderful, new “tradition”.

It has been a horrible year, and I don’t have to list all the ways that is true. I hope you have had some silver linings and I wish you and your loved ones happiness, peace, and health in 2021.