How to be Grateful in a Pandemic World
How will you be celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020? Virtual or face to face? Everyone is making some really hard choices—three out of five won’t be physically gathering with the family.
It’s about to be Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2020 in the United States and in a handful of other countries around the world.
Thanksgiving is about gratitude, and I know we’re all dealing with being grateful for many really positive things in a year when so much has been taken away from all of us in terms of personal connection.
When as children we dressed up as pilgrims for school programs, I didn’t realize the real story of the Pilgrims and the real first Thanksgiving.
The Pilgrims—ironically—set out from Plymouth, England in 1620, four hundred years exactly from our present pandemic year 2020. It turns out that neither of these years ending in ’20 were good for the Pilgrims or us. I’m really glad there is only one ’20 in a century.
The Pilgrims began to have conflict from the first on the voyage of the famed Mayflower even before the ship arrived. In that year, 1620, half the colony died from malnutrition and cold. Yet Pilgrims and Native Americans met to share gratitude, what we call the first Thanksgiving,to eat beaver and deer, and corn. It happens that turkeys didn’t exist inheir present form yet.
In spite of everything, the pilgrims came together to express their gratitude for 1620—amazing for them and for us.
A great many families are opting out of person celebrations. A recent poll says that 2 out of 5 people will attend a Thanksgiving gathering for extended families. For Carol and our family, this will be the first virtual Thanksgiving.
So just what do we have be thankful for in 2020, one of the suckiest years of our lives? . . .
. . . miles of people in cars waiting for food.
. . . infection rates the highest ever
. . . families cut off from each other because of fear of infection
. . . huge layoffs and too many businesses folding.
- The Economy is Still Working—Opportunities Abound. I am gratefully amazed that the current unemployment rate is 6.8 percent during this economic crisis. The unemployment rate was 25% in 1929, the beginning of the Great Depression. We know people who have found jobs during these times, others who were laid off and found new jobs.
- The Healthcare Workers are doing miracles – Healthcare workers who are caring for people and saving lives will always be remembered as heroes of our time. We salute them and pray for them.
- Science has Taken Wings. Epidemiologist have charted the course of where the virus will go and had they not, many more people would have died. The miracle to multiply vaccines with a 90% plus effectiveness in less than a year gives new, solid hope. We thank those who have developed the vaccine.
- Offices are Gone, but Business Expands – If we had been told in February of this year that everyone would flee their offices and that essential workers would still be building new construction and we’d be getting packages at the door, nobody would have believed it. Yet businesses are adapting to virtual in a way that is truly astounding.
- Entertainment Abounds—the Show Goes on With no place to go, bars and music venues shut tight, and the arts on hold, what would we have done without literally thousands of options on Netflix, Amazon, Disney, you name it. The content on YouTube is endless. We are thankful for entertainment.
- Zoom – We’re Thankful to You!—Zoom and similar platforms truly connect the world. An extraverted friend who lives alone tells me he wouldn’t have survived without Zoom, We complain of the time we’re on Zoom, but it is the glue that holds us together, along with other technology. It is a pillar of business today. It’s how families stay in touch. It is the way that communities of faith minister to members
We can be thankful in 2020, difficult as it has been, that we have the foundation of faith for a new era. Some aspects of our former way of living will return, but nothing will ever be the same. In some aspects, it may very well be better. The world has changed the center of gravity of its values. Literally trillions of dollars have not been spent, and spendthrifts have learned to save. A new world will emerge where the economy will boom and new investments will be made.
Yes, even now, we are thankful