Thinking About Thanksgiving Through a 2020 Filter

The Idea of Thanksgiving is Both Challenged and Reinforced This Year


It is Still 2020

Boy, is this ever a year we will all be glad to close the books on. In some ways Thanksgiving is no exception. Plans and traditions are disrupted for most of us for this most American of holidays. Still, it is not too much of a stretch to reflect on how very much many of us can be grateful for, even this year. Let’s take a small inventory.

You Can Be Grateful If…
  • You don’t have and have not had COVID 19
  • No one close to you has died from the pandemic virus
  • If you are working and you still have a job (and health insurance)
  • You have access to some technology that lets you see and hear those you would like to be with in person. Hey, it’s better than no visuals at all
  • You know where your next meal is coming from
  • You don’t even have to think about where you will sleep warm and safe tonight
  • You recognize that effective vaccines appear to be in the near-term pipeline
  • You do not live in a war zone, or in some place just destroyed by a disaster
  • It does not worry you that someone may shoot you, out of anger or by chance based on where you live or the color of your skin
  • In 57 days, our national nightmare of national government is over. It will be replaced by sanity, dignity, and meaning
Hey, Some of Those “If You…” Things Don’t Apply to Me

I am truly sorry to hear that. Some of that checklist constitutes a real burden to be on the wrong side of the list. But as you shoulder your load know this. If only half that list applies to you, you live far better than most people on this planet on any given day. Your life represents safety, security, and luxury beyond the imagination of many.

I have seen many of those “others” in my travels abroad and, sadly, here in America, too. Most of us here have so very, very much to be grateful for, don’t we? We have every right to bemoan our losses and setbacks, for sure. But we also would do well to have some perspective on life writ large.

OK, So I’m Grateful. Now What?

How about we turn some of that gratitude into action? Times like this serve to remind us how fragile a good life can be, and how tough it is for so many others. Might we consider committing ourselves to ensuring others join our band of the lucky few?

I cannot speak for you, but for me there is much to contemplate. It is enraging that in 21st century America a lot of people, most of them children, go to bed hungry most nights. I am angry that a single illness can wipe out a lifetime of saving and working. I am incensed that Black parents have to have “the talk” with their children, especially their sons.

I am bewildered that our communications architecture is full of holes. It leaves whole communities isolated and poor. I wonder about my nation’s infrastructure. It increasingly looks like something out of the Third World. I am saddened that so many of us seem angry at science. That the common decency toward each other of wearing a mask during a pandemic seems too much to ask.

Shoulder to the Wheel Time

So, could we put our gratitude and our energy to work in the coming year to start chipping away at some of this? Let’s hold ourselves and our governments at all levels accountable for getting the job done. The good news is that everything negative discussed here is solvable. Or at least subject to reduction. Not too soon for New Year’s resolutions. Start a list, start to work. And we can REALLY celebrate on Thanksgiving 2021.

Oh, and while I am at it – I am grateful that so many of you are my friends and that you are all readers. Your feedback helps keep me honest and inspired. Thanks. Speaking of feedback – if you have something or someone you are especially grateful for now, share the good news with the rest of us. Send in a comment and let us celebrate with you.

           Bill Clontz

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1 reply to Thinking About Thanksgiving Through a 2020 Filter

  1. Always good to see our “Grateful” list so well summarized. I’ll be circulating the article to friends and family.

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