We give thanks for life, the freedom to enjoy it all, and all other blessings. As we partake of this food, we pray for health and strength to carry on and try to live as You would have us.
— Harry Jewell, Thanksgiving prayer
Our custom is to count our blessings at this time of year and to give thanks to those who have made our lives a little better. Admittedly that may be more of a challenge in a year in which a quarter of a million people (at this writing) have died, millions more are out of work, and local businesses have also succumbed to a deadly virus. Few of us have ever experienced anything like this.
But anyone who survived or, better yet, completely avoided the Coronavirus this year has reason to give thanks. We are the fortunate ones.
We begin by giving thanks for those who aren’t spending the holiday with us in 2020. We’ve been warned to keep our gatherings small this year. That means less holiday travel and fewer family members at our table. We should rejoice for the health and safety of loved ones who could not cross state lines this year. May we all be together next year.
We often give thanks for the courage and talent of our emergency responders: police, firefighters and EMTs. That’s never been more true than this year when they risk exposure to COVID by simply walking out the front door every morning. Essential workers don’t have the luxury of working from home. They are always on the front lines of any crisis. When the vaccine comes - hopefully soon - they need to be the first ones on the receiving end.
Other front line workers include ER staffers and literally anyone who works in a COVID ward at a hospital: doctors, nurses, technicians and the staff members who deliver meals to patients. That also applies to the folks who work in nursing homes and assisted care facilities. They all risk exposure to the deadly virus on a daily basis.
In 2020, people who do seemingly ordinary things all provide an extraordinary service in the face of COVID. Whether they deliver meals to our curbside, work in a hair salon or bag our groceries, they all risk their health by serving us. They may all be thankful to have a job. The rest of us should be thankful for their work.
Let’s not forget the teachers who may be enjoying a well-deserved long weekend. Whether they are running a socially-distanced classroom or preparing a remote lesson, they must navigate a stressful course. We are thankful for their dedication and interest.
Finally, we need to give thanks for those who are sharing the Thanksgiving table with us this year - thankful to have risen to whatever challenges we’ve faced and that we have loved ones to share our bubble.