It sounded unfathomable: Thanksgiving is canceled this year?
Sure enough, my side of the family’s annual gathering of my parents, siblings and our respective branches of the family won’t be gathering for turkey Thursday. Coronavirus cooked that goose.
It’s a bit shocking to think about. Thanksgiving’s always been one of my favorite holidays. Maybe it’s my love of food. Maybe it’s my love of family. Whatever it was, I always look forward to Thanksgiving.
I’m one of those people who gets frustrated when people try to start the Christmas season as soon as November starts. I get frustrated that we want to sprint past the one holiday that really focuses on gratitude so we can sprint into the one that’s become about getting more stuff.
All that aside, plenty of things have been changed or canceled this year. Why should Thanksgiving be any different?
Here’s the thing: You can’t cancel Thanksgiving. You can’t cancel gratitude. I know it’s been a rough year that most of us want to put behind us. That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to reflect.
I’m grateful for my immediate family. God chose wisely for me on a wife, that we can still laugh and love in stressful times. My children are unique and fun to be around, and somehow they still like being around me too.
I’m grateful for my community. I live in a nice, safe place, and it’s easy to take that for granted when you get absorbed in the world.
I’m grateful for my Catholic faith. I’ve leaned in hard on that in a year that hasn’t always made sense. I was asked to video our services during the lockdown, which forced me to take a very close look at the tenets of my faith. It strengthened that belief.
I’m grateful COVID-19 hasn’t taken any of my close friends or family yet. In fact, I’m grateful it’s attributed to killing only 0.05% of Ohio’s population so far, or one in 2,000 people in the general population. For that matter, I’m grateful it’s only infected 2.8% of the state’s population thus far.
I’m grateful for readers of the newspaper and its website, that there are still local people interested in their local community. There are actually more of you than there were a year ago, which makes my long days feel worthwhile.
I’m grateful for our pets. The unconditional love of a dog is hard to beat. Our one golden retriever has a knack for snuggling up to me to be pet at just the right times. I don’t know if he needs or I need it more, but it’s so calming to share that affection.
I’m grateful for a free country and a free press. My words aren’t reviewed by anyone from the government before you see them, nor are your words when you share them on social media. That’s not so in a lot of places.
So sure, the dinner table might not have as many people sitting around it Thursday. We might need a smaller turkey than when we’re all gathered together. Things might not be perfect, but they never have been.
But make no mistake, Thanksgiving is not canceled, nor is gratitude. It might be more important this year than ever before.