Finding Thankfulness

November 24, 2020

This past Friday would have been the annual Ciceron Thanksgiving feast where staff, alumni and their families all gather to eat, drink, and be merry. It is better than the real Thanksgiving. At least that’s what everyone tells us.

Alas, we did not have Ciceron Thanksgiving for the first time in decades, and we obviously made that decision because we love these people. We want everyone to stay safe and healthy so we can have many more in the future.

Canceling Ciceron Thanksgiving was but one more item on what seems to be a never ending list of 2020 disappointments. But that’s all they are — disappointments. A disappointment isn’t a catastrophe or even a loss. A disappointment is simply something could have gone better than expectations. But with this year, resetting expectations has become a superpower. For example, when given the choice between having a party where people could become seriously ill vs. not having the party, choosing not to have the party hardly becomes a disappointment. It’s just logical according to a new standard of expectation. I expect we will have that party next year, and everyone will be there happy and healthy. I’ll take the tradeoff.

All this got me thinking. What am I thankful for in a year where expectations hit a hard reset?

Here are my Top Ten Things To Be Thankful For In 2020 (in absolutely no particular order):

    1. Resilience. It’s the thing that’s gotten us through to this point. From home-school parenting to hanging on to mental health, we’ve been nothing but resilient. Congratulations. You now have a PhD in resilience.
    2. Athleisure. I’ve always been partial to it, but I never knew what a fashion-maven I was. I am thankful that the world has finally embraced the wonders of soft fabric and free movement. Please, never go away.
    3. Being digital. Quite honestly, I can’t 100% guarantee that Ciceron would be alive if we weren’t a digital agency. And I can’t guarantee that many of my clients would have survived 2020 without digital channels for communications and commerce. I think we may have taken that for granted in years past but never again. Yes, I am thankful beyond belief to be in the digital world and to be in a position to help guide people through to the other side.
    4. DEMOCRACY! Our system of government is, indeed, resilient. Democracy won 2020. It wasn’t pretty. It was challenged (from within) to its breaking point. 2020 may go down as the most historic year in our republic’s history when the books are written. And I am hopeful that big, fat lessons will be learned.
    5. Nature. Animals (including humans) are not meant to be confined, and despite that 100th trip to Home Depot, our homes began to feel like they were boxing us in. So we left. We went outside. We hiked, fished, golfed, camped, played tennis(!), walked, ran, swam, picnicked, and shouted off a mountain top. Nature is good. Nature is resilient. Nature is beautiful. Nature is to be preserved.
    6. Friends. I’m placing a bet that you got in touch this year with the people who are most important to you. And not just your everyday friends, but those real deep ones. I have a group of friends whom I’ve known since we were teenagers. We still act like teenagers. But they are the ones who have my back when it feels like it’s breaking under stress, and I have theirs. Friendships — true friendships — are resilient.
    7. Family. I am fortunate to have family nearby and a patio. We have spent many hours outdoors on that patio checking in with one another, masked and distanced but together nevertheless. I will remember those patio chats forever.
    8. Cicerones! The Ciceron team has simply been sublime this year. We’ve gotten closer as a team, despite the physical distance. The team has done remarkable work. We held each other together. We used our #1 agency value of Empathy to its greatest extent. 2020 will emerge as a meaningful time for the agency and the people who worked here.


    1. Tennis. Tennis quite literally kept me sane this year. There’s nothing like smashing tennis balls to get it all out. I highly recommend it. Smash the hell out of those balls. You’ll thank me later.
    2. Phish. You are invited in to become a member of the world’s greatest band fan club. During COVID, the band streamed epic shows from their past 30 years on Tuesday nights called “Dinner and a Movie”. Then frontman Trey Anastasio holed up in the Beacon Theater in NYC for a live performance every Friday night for the past couple of months. The shows have been spellbinding and joyful. I am grateful for this band to have been the soundtrack of my entire adult life. And it’s probably a cult.