Giving Thanks Two Years Into a Pandemic

| December 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

The past couple of years have been challenging on many levels. There were ups and downs, to be sure. Having my adult daughter living at home for almost a full year was wonderful, though we all agreed it was best when she moved back to school to finish her graduate degree. Not spending 90 minutes a day on I-5 between downtown and Solana Beach was a clear silver lining, not to mention the nearly empty roads when I did have to go to the office.

Family and friends

Despite the enforced separation of the pandemic, our family huddled together and stayed close. Zoom and Facetime helped us to bring in family members from around the country and to stay connected to local friends when we couldn’t get together. As things settled down a bit, outdoor walks and gatherings took the place of Zoom (to much fanfare and rejoicing I might add). In the end, maintaining those connections was one of the most important things we did during the pandemic to help keep spirits. And the research on happiness is pretty clear on this point: social connections are critical to happy and healthy longevity.

Health and Medical

As the pandemic started to come into focus in early 2020, our medical system kicked into high gear. We’ve all heard stories about the long hours and stress imposed on our medical professionals and first responders who’ve borne the brunt of the pandemic’s hardships. A friend of mine who works in public health has worked harder and longer than I thought humanly possible trying to help manage the county’s response to the pandemic. Another friend who is an emergency room doctor has spent months on the front lines with limited protective gear and caught COVID himself. So many of our health care workers have toiled silently in the background as hospitals and clinics filled to the breaking point.

The speed with which the vaccines were developed was breathtaking, a true testament to American ingenuity and creativity. These vaccines have really enabled life to return to something close to normal and have saved tens of thousands of lives by preventing more serious COVID infections. And as I write this, several potential new treatments are being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, another remarkable achievement.

Personal Development

Many people spent the pandemic honing new skills. I’ve been enjoying the new season of the Great British Baking Show featuring one gentleman who started baking at the beginning of the pandemic and is now a finalist. My oldest daughter certainly perfected her croissants (which was not good for my waistline), and I’ve become a wiz with Zoom. Working from home never really seemed feasible for me, but as we’ve gotten used to it over the past 18 months, it’s much easier to flex between being in the office and being at home.


Probably the biggest surprise of the pandemic is how well the stock market and financial system has performed over the last two years. If you had told me in December of 2019 that 2020 would see a global pandemic in which the global economy and global trade would effectively shut down for several months while millions of people (including more than 370,000 Americans) died but the stock market would hit new highs by year-end, I’d have probably asked what you were smoking. But that’s exactly what happened. A combination of record fiscal and monetary support in the form of government spending and low interest rates, combined with unprecedented shifts in how and where corporate America works resulted in little more than a brief hiccup for most of the economy. To be sure, millions of workers and renters have been displaced, and I don’t want to minimize the damage done to the workers least able to handle the challenges of the past year. But the economy has come roaring back and the financial markets have clearly benefitted.

As we adjust to a post-COVID reality, we remain especially grateful to our family, friends, and colleagues who helped make the challenges of the last two years just a little bit easier to deal with.

This column is prepared by Rick Brooks, CFA®, CFP®. Brooks is director/investment management with Blankinship & Foster, LLC, a wealth advisory firm specializing in financial planning and investment management for people preparing for retirement. Brooks can be reached at (858) 755-5166, or by email at Brooks and his family live in Mission Hills.

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