Thanksgiving 2020. Those words seem like an oxymoron. This has certainly been a strange year. When you look around, you might sense there is less to be thankful about than usual as we approach the close of 2020 with anticipation. After all, 2021 has to be better than 2020, right?
It’s a natural feeling. Effects of the virus. Emotional, physical, and financial impacts. Lockdowns, virtual everything, businesses shutting down, not just a jog from “normal” but a sharp left that has many of us just scratching our heads. There will be many empty seats at the traditional Thanksgiving table, some because of the natural aging process, some because of deaths, some because of travel restrictions, some because of gathering restrictions, some because of fear, all because of Covid 19.
On top of the virus, throw on other seemingly never-ending barrages of natural disasters like fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Civil unrest runs rampant where legitimate protests are often hijacked by looting and violence leaving innocent people and businesses in their wake. We won’t even discuss the political upheaval and angst that has honed sharp ideological divides that have ripped family and friend relationships to shreds. These divisions are causing havoc in the country almost to the point where we can’t have a civil conversation.
We’re winding down, but there are still too many families separated by war. No one really knows whether the economy is improving but we all know someone still struggling paycheck to paycheck – or even worse – without a viable job. There are still too many people living at or below poverty … and the numbers grow.
Our youth continue to be literally under siege – staring at experimentation and exploitation of seemingly uncontrolled drugs, unbridled sex, wanton violence and unparalleled peer pressure … all at a younger and younger age. Our families are under attack. Our morals – what’s left of them in an increasingly immoral world – are constantly challenged. There is still too much racial, cultural and class intolerance.
Life continues to be tough for families and children, for employees and employers, for church and state. Life changed after the senselessness of Sept. 11 and even after 19 years, it’s aftermath has ushered in gratuitous acts of violence and the ever-present threat of terrorism home and abroad. Those with family in the military feel a certain anxiousness that could dampen the holidays.
But that’s not the right feeling … not the true meaning of the Thanksgiving tradition.
Despite the problems within and without our own little circles, there is a lot to give thanks for this Thanksgiving Day. Above all, we thank God for our very lives and the lives of all we touch and who touch us. That inter-connection itself is wider than you might imagine.
While many of us this Thanksgiving will forego a gathering with family and/or friends around the table, we’ll continue the tradition started by the Pilgrims in 1621 … one that is more than turkey and stuffing … one that includes praise, thanksgiving, sharing, and caring.
Thanksgiving is more than a day off to share with family and friends, sample the stuffing before the bird reaches the table or munch on leftovers while watching football games on television. It’s a day to look inward as well as outward … a day to recognize we still have much to be thankful for, despite all the problems in our nation and world.
I remain hopeful. On top of my blessing list is an ever-widening circle of family, friends, and followers. This Thanksgiving, whether it is with family and friends at the table or socially distant and virtual, please consider:
Counting your blessings instead of your crosses.
Counting your gains instead of your losses.
Counting your joys instead of your woes.
Counting your friends instead of your foes.
Counting your smiles instead of your tears.
Counting your courage instead of your fears.
Counting your full years instead of your lean.
Counting your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Counting your health instead of your wealth.
Counting on God instead of yourself.
It is truly a day for Thanksgiving. And a real good time to continue looking UP!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. — Ralph Waldo Emerson