EDITORIAL: A special time to be thankful

Volunteers distribute food boxes at Saratoga County Fairgrounds on September 16, 2020.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Volunteers distribute food boxes at Saratoga County Fairgrounds on September 16, 2020.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

“I cannot go to be with you because I am already there. You are not little because you are already grown, playing among our lifetimes, as do we all, for the fun of living. You have no birthday because you have always lived; you were never born, and never will die. You are not the child of the people you call mother and father, but their fellow-adventurer on a bright journey to understand the things that are. Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness.” — Richard Bach, There’s No Such Place as Far Away

It might be a challenge to muster gratitude in the year from hell.

But the fact that you’re reading this means you’ve gotten this far.

Start by being thankful for that.

And despite all that’s happened this year, despite how much or how little you’ve been personally affected by covid or the election or life in general, this is the one day we set aside specifically not to think only about ourselves and to instead think about others.

Right this minute, someone in the medical profession is taking care of someone, maybe someone you love.

The front-line health workers —the doctors, nurses, interns, nursing home staff, home health aides, EMS workers, firefighters — are putting their lives on hold and at risk for someone other than themselves.

The coronavirus crisis has placed an undue burden and brought long-overdue attention to the jobs these individuals do, the sacrifices they make, and the risky situations they place themselves in.

If you haven’t needed them in the past, you may in the future.

Be thankful for them today.

Be grateful for our educational professionals, the school teachers and college professors and pre-K instructors, who have had to make significant changes to all they’ve learned in order to educate our children in the covid world.

Teaching 25 kids in a classroom requires a whole different set of skills than teaching individual students on a Zoom call. These educators have had to step forward to a degree we’ve never asked of them before. They didn’t set aside their love of children and dedication to education just because the pandemic forced them to learn new teaching techniques.

Be thankful for them today.

Be thankful for all those people in jobs we might have overlooked before, the people in grocery stores and restaurants and warehouses. The truck drivers and factory workers and postal workers and farmers and anyone who has helped ease the burden of this crisis by working through it to serve us.

Today, there are people volunteering to provide meals and other services to the less fortunate in our society. For many of these individuals, their service to the community doesn’t start or stop on Thanksgiving Day. The poor don’t stop being poor because of a virus. The sick and disabled don’t stop needing their help.

We need these social workers and volunteers even more this year to meet our growing needs.

Be thankful for them today.

Remember on this day the people who, literally, are putting their own lives on the line for us, our members of the military and police forces, who don’t take a holiday, even during a pandemic.

On Thanksgiving, remember in your thoughts of gratitude today the kindness of strangers, the people who maybe did something small to make your life a little less awful. The individuals and businesses who donated canned goods and school supplies and money and who volunteered their time to help out.

Clergy and funeral directors and government workers and repair people and utility crews. Be thankful for them today.

Be thankful for loved ones, those who are with us today and those who have passed, for the memories and experiences we have to cherish for the rest of our lives.

With family, there’s no such place as far away.

Being thankful is a way of expressing hope. Only by appreciating what we have can we look to the future. That is what has gotten us through this year, and it’s what will get us past it.

So here is a gift from a friend, a wish for your happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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