COVID-19 continues to keep us in somewhat of a holding pattern, but there’s plenty to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season.

What a difference a year makes.

Last November, before vaccines and booster shots, in the immediate aftermath of a tumultuous presidential election, the future was uncertain. Many had to forego annual celebrations with family and friends, marring their Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.

A year later, and millions of Americans have been vaccinated. And even though the Delta variant has postponed a full return to pre-pandemic life, there’s more hope. There are booster shots. Airlines anticipate packed planes amid a busy holiday travel season. There are more hugs and fewer elbow bumps. There’s much to be thankful for.

The Thanksgiving holiday traces its roots to the early colonists that settled the Northeastern U.S. and the Wampanoag tribe, which came together to celebrate an autumn harvest in 1621. While for more than 200 years, individual Thanksgiving celebrations were held in the nascent United States and its colonial forerunners, it wasn’t until the after the U.S. Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national holiday to be held in November.

It’s important, in these extraordinary times, to remember the roots of this holiday: a time for mending fences, gathering family and celebrating life after years of bloodshed, grief and loss. A country devoured by war saw the promise of peace in a moment of gratitude.

And so, we can honor the tradition of this holiday be remembering the good in our lives, giving thanks, and taking a moment of gratitude to think about how far we have come.

What communicators can be thankful for

For the communications profession—the tireless women and men that we seek to serve at Ragan and PR Daily—there is plenty to be thankful for in 2021.

With the COVID-19 crisis came an elevation in the role of the communicator. CEOs and their organizations are turning to comms pros more than ever to glean strategic counsel on the challenges ahead.

There’s also lots of good work to be done. With the rise of stakeholder capitalism, environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and more emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I)—there are a lot of important stories to tell.

That’s an exciting opportunity for the comms profession. Your voice matters more than ever before—and the work ahead of you has such import for the future of our country, even our planet.

And there’s a new respect for colleagues and coworkers. The curtain was pulled back during the days of lockdown, revealing shared humanity rather than deep division. We met each other’s children and pets, partners and spouses. We learned to know the difference between accidental interruption and professional insolence.

We learned to have empathy for each other.

Early signs show that this sea change in the workplace is only gaining steam. More and more, organizations and their leaders say they are responsible for the well-being of their employees. Now, employers are in a bidding war for talent, and companies are asking what they can do for their workforce, rather than just what their workforce can do for them.

It’s sobering to see how much we’ve changed in two years and more of constant crisis. In many ways, we must rediscover who we are, reaffirm our values.

But we can also be grateful for the opportunity that comes from a seismic shift that reveals the stark and terrifying truth that anything really is possible.

Family, friends and being together

And even though it has been delayed, the promise of a future where we can spend time together—as friends and families, and as colleagues and neighbors—it’s just around the corner. We’re already gathering in groups again—and the big party seems imminent.

Ragan was able to celebrate Communications Week for 2021 with an in-person reception on Nov. 16—our first since the pandemic hit in March of 2020. We saw many faces—old friends and new ones—for the first time in a long while in New York City.

We’re excited to do more of that in 2022.

There will be more ups and downs in the year ahead—everyone has gotten out of the predictions business in the last couple of years. However, there’s plenty to give us optimism, and there’s much to be thankful for.

As we head to our respective gatherings this year, let’s have a moment of gratitude for the year behind us, for our colleagues and clients that saw us through the many pivots of the months so far.

And certainly, at Ragan and PR Daily, we know we are grateful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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