Most will agree that 2020 has been a year unlike any other. Who could have imagined we would be living through a global pandemic, and one that has impacted the US as much, if not more, than any other country? With that reality comes a deeper appreciation for the basics that we often take for granted.

For the better part of the last decade, the Burton team has enjoyed a pre-Thanksgiving tradition of lunch at Benihana. We could not be accommodated this year, at least in a proper socially distant setting. So, we made the trek to a local BBQ joint with a private game room and an outdoor patio, with ample space for all who partook. In addition to the delicious beef brisket, pulled pork and side dishes, we entertained ourselves playing table tennis and cornhole. 

During our luncheon, a colleague asked each attendee to briefly share one thing they were most thankful for. Like most, I responded that I was appreciative for my family and everyone on the Burton team. On my drive home I reflected more on the question, and the predominant word that occupied my thoughts was “health” – both personal and professional. 

No one in our family – wife, son, parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles – contracted the virus. Or if we did, we were asymptomatic. That could obviously change, but to date that is significant. 

Noting the stipulation above, none of my colleagues had the virus. The wife of one of our employees had some mild symptoms, but thankfully she recovered quickly. 

Only one of our 50+ clients opted to leave and cease using our services. We have added three clients during the pandemic. That amazes me and is a testament to the working partnership we have with our customers, as well as the talent and work ethic consistently exemplified by my Burton contemporaries. 

For all these examples of personal and professional health, I am genuinely grateful.

I am equally mindful of the incredible toll the pandemic has taken on so many people – lives lost, jobs lost, businesses closed, the simple act of not being able to hug a loved one.  I am optimistic that vaccines developed will be available soon and hopeful that 2021 returns to some sense of normalcy, where firm handshakes and long hugs are again part of our daily lives. 

It is why I took extra time this past holiday weekend to give thanks and truly immerse myself in the time spent with family, and reread a passage by novelist Storm Jameson that I’ve kept close for over three decades, entitled Values and Ideals: Living in the Present:

I believe that only one person in a thousand knows the trick of really living in the present. Most of us spend 59 minutes an hour living in the past, with regret for lost joys, or shame for things badly done (both utterly useless and weakening) – or in a future which we either long for or dread.  Yet the past is gone beyond prayer, and every minute you spend in the vain effort to anticipate the future is a moment lost. There is only one world, the world pressing against you at this minute. There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute – here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle. Which is exactly what it is – a miracle and unrepeatable.  

Now if you will excuse me, I have to complete my last parental task of the evening… a creative hiding place for The Elf on the Shelf, and a bit of illustrated mischief from this December house guest that is sure to confound and amuse our toddler when he awakes. 

Happy Holidays everyone. Be safe and stay healthy.