Giving Thanks

Words and photos as credited

Spotlight asked its writers what they are thankful for as we approach Thanksgiving 2020. Here are a few of our thoughts:

BA Ciccolella

First off, I’m thankful for all of the volunteers at the three different companies that I help coordinate for their work as we shut down, then figured out how to continue existing in a global pandemic. 

I am also in a strange way thankful for the time spent in my apartment, and the interesting reassessment that happened when much of my mental healthcare went virtual. Partly because my therapist was able to see me in my home environment, we were able to nail down some of my issues in a more succinct and accessible manner (for me at least). This is not to say that I still don’t have a long way to go.

I’m strangely thankful for the ADHD diagnosis that came out of that assessment. Though I’ve always said “If it has a name you can fight it”, it turns out that if it has a name, you can also work within it. You can do research about it. You can find other people who ALSO have it, and learn about what their experiences are like, and what interventions they use to make things work. Then, as you do all this research and self-assessment and look back at your life, SO many things start coming into perspective, and so many things start making sense and become clear, like putting on glasses for the first time in your life (a memory I still vividly have, even though it happened in the fourth grade). You also begin to realize that much of what you do already is an intervention for your diagnosis… not just you being “weird”.

I’m thankful for what little reflection time I’ve had in all of this, and for the support of the community I have in this area, who have all been looking out for each other as we all navigate unemployment and underemployment, and the complete shutdown of our industry. 

Finally, I’m thankful for the technology that I do have access to, which not only has allowed me to keep in touch with family and friends from all over, but also has allowed me to meet new people across the country who are all working on the same challenges. It gives me hope (on the good days) that we will get through all of this with the important parts of our communities intact (and maybe even some of the stuff that should have been left behind finally gone). 

Atop brown bricks sits a bumpy yellow gourd with a long swanlike neck arching gently towards the left.
photo courtesy of BA Ciccolella

Moriah Joy

This year I have so much to be thankful for. The year has allowed for a lot of self-reflection, discovery, and fostering new friendships with amazing people. I am incredibly thankful to a community who has welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to explore my passions with unending encouragement and generosity.

Six women and a man on a theatre set resembling the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington D.C. From left to right: Caucasian red headed woman in a white nurse's uniform. Caucasian African American woman in Army fatigues. Caucasian blonde woman in dark blue 1960's folk singer costume. Caucasian red headed woman in light blue red cross uniform. African American woman in Army fatigues. Caucasian blonde man in Army fatigues. In front of them is a black haired caucasian woman in Army fatigues with her leg stretched out. All are smiling
photo courtesy of Moriah Joy

Aliki Marie Pantas Semones

As a chronically ill patient, I’m thankful this year for more things being virtual and more accessible to me- like theater! And classes! And doctor appointments!

I know it sounds super controversial, but it’s true! I loved that National Theater and the Globe offered some free shows on YouTube (and Andrew Lloyd-Webber as well). I was also able to take a few virtual classes with the Virginia Stage Company.

Another thing I’m very thankful for is that this new accessibility has spread to my faith community. Prior to COVID I had to watch Greek Orthodox churches around the country when I couldn’t make it to my local services. Now I’m able to be with my home church by watching virtual services. For Easter, we even watched my cousins’ church in Fredericksburg, as well as watching the church in Brooklyn my mom grew up at. It felt like we were all at church together since we were watching the same stream. I have been able to participate in new virtual Bible Study classes.

I have also found a new creative outlet- making custom greeting cards! I started when we weren’t going to the store as much due to the pandemic. I have loved making them for friends and family, and am working on starting my own business selling them.

I’m hopeful that opportunities like these will stick around once the pandemic passes.

Finally, As always, I’m thankful for my supportive family, especially my husband- Thanksgiving, after all, is our anniversary!

Most importantly, thank You God for all of Your blessings.

A bride looks lovingly at her husband to her right. Husband look at the camera.
photo courtesy of Aliki Marie Pantas Semones

Penny Neef

Thanksgiving thoughts from me, in 2020, during a pandemic – 

I am grateful that soon, I will not have to listen to a president who cannot speak in complete sentences and who does even pretend to care about bringing people together during these pandemic times. I’ve had a stomachache for four years. I’m grateful that my stomach will feel better soon.

I am grateful that my family and friends have stayed well and healthy in 2020. 

I am grateful that there is a vaccine in our future, so that I can hug my grandchildren again.

I am grateful for my neighborhood, where there is room and the safety to get outside, walk and ride my bike.

I am grateful that I have a house to live in that is not too big, not too small, but just right, in the words of Goldilocks.  I have room to be with my husband and apart from my husband.

I am grateful to my husband, who is up when I am down and who has gone out of his way to do and say the little things that can make a big difference in times like these.

I am grateful to all the people behind Spotlight News Hampton Roads.  They’ve given me something to do besides organizing my closets and baking bread.  They’ve kept my old brain activated, and encouraged me to write more, more, more.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Stay healthy.

A man and woman with arms their left arms in the air. Four gilrs stand. On boy bends over to the left side facing the camera. The last child is a girl in a white hat.
photo courtesy of Penny Neef

Louise Casini Hollis

I am thankful B.A. and Frank took up the mantle left behind by AltDaily and the Antonym and founded Spotlight which gives the Hampton Roads community access to arts and community news that embraces the seven cities.

I am thankful that we have technology so that my family can safely work and go to school from home. It allows us to keep in touch with family and friends, and to keep going every day.

I am ever so thankful that I have friends and family that share my quirky sense of humor and appreciate the ridiculousness in life. They help make every day smoother during these challenging times.

A girl with glasses dressed in a pilgrim costume looking to the left. She holds a Tofurkey box.
photo courtesy of Louise Casini Hollis

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for? Please share with us below.

WinterFest Heralds New Tradition for Hampton Roads

Battleship Wisconsin Decks Transformed for Six-Week Holiday Experience

Words and Images courtesy of Nauticus

Norfolk, Va.— More than 250,000 holiday lights, a 25-foot-tall Christmas tree, and a team of custom-designed animatronic elves are just some of the highlights of WinterFest on the Wisconsin, a massive new experience aboard the historic battleship in downtown Norfolk.  Produced by Nauticus and presented by GEICO Military, the holiday spectacle will launch on November 21 and conclude on New Year’s Eve.  Out of an abundance of caution due to COVID-19, Nauticus’ Dickens’ Christmas Townehas been canceled for 2020.  Instead, the Battleship Wisconsin’s outside decks will be transformed for a safe, family-focused experience.        

“Perhaps most notably, the Battleship Wisconsinis a symbol of this country’s resilience and resolve,” said Nauticus executive director, Stephen E. Kirkland.  “That makes it the perfect venue upon which to celebrate the season after a tremendously challenging year.”

Winterfest on the Wisconsinwill feature an enormous holiday light trail along the decks of the battleship with special tree lighting ceremonies each night. An elaborate projection system will cast holiday imagery across the entirety of the ship’s hull, and each Saturday evening Santa Claus will arrive by boat at the conclusion of a lighted sailboat parade.  Winterfest on the Wisconsinwas conceived as a way to celebrate the Hampton Roads community and also pay tribute to the men and women who continue to keep our country safe – even through a global pandemic.         

“GEICO Military is proud to partner with Nauticus and present Winterfest on the Wisconsinin celebration of our military and veteran communities,” said Brian Schlicht, representing GEICO’s Military Assistance Team.  “Our collective goal is to bring some joy and create some lasting family memories.”   

For more information regardingWinterfest on the Wisconsin, visit www.nauticus.org.  The experience is brought to the community by the Nauticus Foundation, a nonprofit 501©3 developed to support the mission and activities of Nauticus. Nauticus’ mission is to benefit the community through education, impactful experiences and by sharing access to maritime resources. 

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