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Gratitude in 2020? For so many, it's easier - not harder - to give thanks

It would seem tough, in a year like this, to find room for thanks. And yet, there is always room.

ATLANTA — It would seem tough, in a year like this, to find room for thanks.

And yet, there is always room.

We went around Metro Atlanta and asked people, "What makes you thankful in 2020?" For so many, the question was actually easier than in years past.

Take Liz Frazer of Atlanta, a proud mother and grandmother who's used to bringing the whole family over for the holidays.

“I have a great big house," Frazer told 11Alive's Matt Pearl, "and I’m usually the matriarch and people come and bring dishes. It’s always full around Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

This year, the house will be almost empty, as Frazer and her family will abide by CDC guidance and stay separated for the holidays.

But ultimately, she said, that's OK.

"I'm grateful that we are alive and healthy," Frazer said. "I know a lot of people don’t have the option of being at home and taking it easy. We are very privileged. We may not be able to enjoy it like we used to, but we know what’s important.”

Our blessings, our privileges, are now ever more present.

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“I am most thankful for health and life itself," Tamerah Marable said. "I think sometimes we take it for granted.”

This year, Marable lost her grandfather, Jimmie. He didn’t die of COVID-19, but the restrictions of the pandemic kept him apart from the ones he loved.

“We couldn’t be around him when he went into the hospital," Marable said. "So even though it wasn’t a COVID-related illness, we couldn’t be there with him.”

Still, gratitude comes easy.

"I'm grateful for the health care workers that were there and were understanding," she said. “Life this year has all been altered, where we've all had to make adjustments and rely on each other.”

Many have turned their gaze inward, like Shyann Smith of Dallas: “Despite what’s going on in the world, we can still find a way to help others.”

Many have received, in a year that's taken so much, the most beautiful gifts.

“I’m thankful for this little booger," Madison McClendon said, referring to the baby boy sitting in her lap. "He’s the best thing that’s ever happened.”

Madison McClendon gave birth to her first child, Alexander, weeks before the world around her shut down.

“It was scary, to say the least," she recalled. “You want to take your kid out and do all the normal things.”

Just as normalcy began to emerge, McClendon said, her house was struck by a tree during a recent storm.

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“The tree itself fell a foot away from where we sleep at night, where our heads lay," she said. "We’re staying with our in-laws right now, and we’re just really lucky that we have a place to stay.”

And now? “We’re all alive and healthy. That’s all you can ask for.”

Sometimes, when so much is removed, when so much is at stake, what’s important becomes clear.

We move forward and stay grateful.