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Looking back on a wild year. Looking ahead to a future that gives hope.

Note: We would like to mention here that Thanksgiving for us is, first and foremost, about showing gratitude. We are aware that there are issues to be mindful of when celebrating Thanksgiving, and it is important to us to celebrate in a culturally responsive way. For a good overview of how the Native American Community perceives the holiday, and for further resources on celebrating a culturally responsive Thanksgiving, please visit this page >

Steve Squires | WeShape.World

Thanksgiving will look quite different for millions of Americans in the United States and abroad this year, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep people from gathering, particularly during America’s busiest travel holiday.

Because of the limitation on gatherings, WeShape’s Steve Squires, an American living in Germany, decided to share some thoughts on WeShape’s blog for Thanksgiving this year.

For 14 years, we have been celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family in Germany.

The Thanksgiving celebration was something that was quite new to most of our German friends and family, but together we have made our own traditions, and it has really become a wonderful gathering. Mainly because our friends who are new to it have really taken to the idea of sharing one’s thankfulness - even though eating a lot of good food is still a huge part of it ;)

We also collect donations each year and give to local organizations. Obviously, this year, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we won’t be able to get together. Because we normally share stories, speeches or a sort of “year in review”...I thought I would share some of my thoughts here this year.

"Thank you for thinking of new solutions to problems we have discovered and to those we knew we had. Thanks for fighting apathy with empathy. "

This has obviously been an eventful year.

We are coming up on the anniversary of the Coronavirus entering our collective consciousness through the news in Wuhan. And since then, it has been a wild ride.

There are a lot of things that have made this year unique - and let’s hope it stays unique in our history. We have all learned different ways to adapt and get by. We have learned determination - doing the right thing even when it is hard or we are exhausted of having to adapt once again to ever-changing rules and advice.

We have learned to look out for each other. And somehow, even with all of the new challenges, which we have faced and are going to face in the coming years, our society has shown itself to be remarkably strong.

About a year and a half ago, before the pandemic, we began working on a new business idea - which became - which would be connected to donation budgets and corporate social responsibility. At the beginning of the pandemic, we wondered if the time was ripe for such a product. We began to consider what kind of effect the pandemic would have on a company’s interest (and society’s interest at large) in behaving with urgent social responsibility and with access to budgets to fund it.

And what we have found, is that that ground remains very fertile. Even with a pandemic raging, people remain very socially engaged and expect the same out of their employers and brands.

The pandemic has brought to light many societal weak points, and has shown a light on even more societal strengths and solutions for a better future. And that makes me feel very encouraged and very hopeful.

There are a lot of reasons to hope.

There are reasons to hope that in the US, the temperature will be turned down and that people will look at each other with more understanding, and there is hope on the horizon as scientists in many countries have developed effective vaccines and effective treatments, all providing hope that we will get “back to normal.” And most importantly, that our new normal will be a better one. A new normal which is informed by some of the errors, imbalances and irresponsibilities of the old normal.

Weak spots in healthcare, environmental care, mental health, supply chain, governmental efficiency and subsidies, spread of disinformation have all been dragged into the light and we face an opportunity in the coming years to fix these problems.

And for that I am thankful.

Normally at this point - and in a much more personal setting – I would say many things about my wonderful family, (they are the source of my strength and I am incredibly grateful for them) and how thankful I am for my friends (who continue to show that even in extenuating circumstances they remain among the best people on earth), and how thankful I am for my extended family spread across the world (who I miss very much and look forward to the day that we can visit and be with each other safely).

But those are more personal things and since this is going out to a larger audience than normal I will spread my gratitude more largely and generally, but no less sincerely.

Thank you to each of you who are reading this.

I am thankful to each of you for doing your part to get through a tough time. Thanks for doing the big things and the small things. Thanks for doing the difficult things and the seemingly innocuous things. Thanks for helping on the front lines and for just staying at home. For sewing masks, and for just wearing them. Thanks for voting. Thanks for demonstrating peacefully and safely.

Thank you for thinking of new solutions to problems we have discovered and to those we knew we had. Thanks for fighting apathy with empathy.

I am thankful for YOU. Without you, there is no we. And WE have power to do wonderful things together.

Let’s continue to shape a better world and a better future from here.