Tomorrow, for perhaps the first time in more than a year, families will be gathering in full force around the dinner table. This year, maybe more so than last, there are so many reasons to give thanks. Yes, 2020 was tough. But in many ways, 2021 was even tougher. We felt the pull of a return to normalcy – no masks, no social distancing, no paralyzing fear of COVID – but we knew that if we relaxed too much, the disease would come back with a roar and very long, sharp teeth.

It was hard to be patient. It was hard to continue a cautious return to normalcy.

But with each step forward, two steps back and three steps forward, we made progress. Our hearts ache for those who suffered or lost loved ones in the past two years. But this week, and especially tomorrow, we want to focus on the positive.

Here are a few things for which we can be thankful:

■ Family and friends. The human connection. Love. Companionship. Combined, those make us the people we are.

■ Our communities. Whether it be Rocky River or Sheffield Lake, there are so many kind and wonderful people. Let’s appreciate them, rather than letting the rude and nasty people overwhelm our senses.

■ The Metroparks. More than 24,000 acres in 18 reservations located throughout Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township.

■ Lake Erie. Between boating, kayaking, swimming, paddleboarding, watching the waves or marveling at the sunsets … we love and are grateful for our lake.

■ Affordable and varied houses. We have it all in Northeast Ohio: Modern farmhouse style, the Western Reserve Bungalow, to a classic colonial. And best yet? Compared to other large cities, our houses are affordable!

■ The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. Just knowing these internationally renowned hospitals are in our town is a comfort.

■ The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It has been around since 1882 when it was a zoo with just local animals. Now it has more than 3,000 animals from 600 different species. Cleveland Metroparks took control of the zoo in 1975. Special events include Wild Winter Lights, a spectacularly sparkly adventure.

■ The Cleveland Museum of Art. This free museum provides hours (days?) of enjoyment viewing the masterpieces of the centuries, including paintings by Vermeer, Picasso, Gaughan, and a spectacular look at Tiffany glass creations.

■ Nature at its best: Fall splendor. Winter wonderland. Slushy but warm spring. Perfect summer.

Tomorrow we will all gather with family or friends and celebrate another year. Let us truly be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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