As we approach this most unusual of Thanksgiving holidays, it’s tempting to dwell on the things we are missing. Within our day-to-day on campus, we are missing the accustomed easy interaction with each other, face-to-face. Coffee in the Park lobby. Parents in the hallways. Boisterous children in the Dining Room. And while I do miss all that, I can’t shake the feeling that, more than anything else, I am grateful.
In my first Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ address in 2018, I spoke about the importance of gratitude when I shared that “gratitude differs from thanks in that it is an appreciation for what one has rather than what one has received. Gratitude is a deeper appreciation. One is thankful for a well-prepared meal, but we are grateful for the love, companionship, acceptance, and dedication of our family and friends who join us in celebration.”
As we prepare for this Thanksgiving Break, I am thankful for the incredible joy Park students bring to our campus. I am grateful for the resilience, patience, creativity, and flexibility our teachers bring to their work every day. I am humbled by the extra efforts brought by members of the administration and staff who say yes to tasks they never had to juggle before — at all hours of the day. And, I am overwhelmed by the support of Park families during this extraordinarily challenging year.
Thanksgiving this year has particular resonance to me, coming at the end of a long stretch in which so many at Park have done the heavy lifting of designing solutions to problems we never had to think about before. We have this moment to pause, to rest, and to be grateful for all that has carried us this far. Thank you — to every member of the Park community who are giving so much of themselves to ensure that Park is Park. It’s the effort and heartfelt dedication of so many good people that makes Park what it is.
I’m grateful for our families who have adhered to our expectations in support of health and safety, who prioritize keeping Park safe with the choices they make. I take particular joy in the routine of morning and afternoon carpool, where so many words of thanks are exchanged as children of all ages set off to start and complete their days. I appreciate our PA Community Service team’s effort to orchestrate the annual pumpkin bread drive despite logistical challenges surrounding distribution. I am thankful for all the ways members of our community, large and small, are looking out for each other, helping each other along.
While we’d all so much rather not have to deal with the current challenges, I find myself revisiting again and again all these sources of gratitude, which in a normal year we might not have had such reason to appreciate. Gratitude, too, is healing. Studies actually show that experiencing gratitude makes people healthier, and happier. It’s a habit I hope I can sustain.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Please join me in embracing gratitude in 2020 for all we are able to accomplish together. Be safe, be kind, and be grateful.