This Thanksgiving will be unlike any we have experienced in recent (or even distant) memory.
America has faced profound challenges caused by the spread of COVID-19 – and the efforts to contain it. We have been isolated and separated from our friends, families and colleagues. Many Americans have lost their jobs – or more importantly their lives. And even more of us have had to say goodbye to loved ones taken by the pandemic.
At the same time, we are living through a fraught political environment, which is laying bare just how deep some of our differences are. Anxiety and stress levels have not been this pervasive or enduring in decades of our history.
So, for most Americans, the Thanksgiving table will have fewer seats – either because people are isolating or because they are no longer with us. And, there is more potential for disagreement as families across the nation are stressed out and split on politics.
This may seem strange coming from me, as a sometimes-aggressive political voice, but I have one serious request for every American: This week, set all differences aside and remain thankful.
No matter how fiercely we disagree about matters of policy or the right direction for the country, our loved ones – and the time we share with them – are more important. If this year has taught us anything it is that we have no control over whether the person sitting across the table will be there next year or not. So, instead of arguing, let’s share the time, fellowship and blessings we have and be thankful for them.
Even if there are fewer seats at the table, be thankful for those which are filled. If you have to see your relatives on the screen instead of in person, be thankful that we live in a time when this kind of communication is possible. Also, be thankful that it appears there are at least two vaccines that are near to completion. Hopefully, next Thanksgiving will return to tradition.
If the turkey isn’t as big this year – or isn’t there at all – let’s be thankful that the underlying economy is strong, and things will improve. Jobs will return. Opportunities will return, and America will succeed.
We can also focus on the things for which we can all be thankful. We can be thankful for all the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way – both abroad and in our neighborhoods – to ensure that we are safe, and our freedoms are secured.
No matter our differences, we can be thankful that we live in America – the only nation in history founded on the ideals that all men are created equal, and that we are endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have the right to disagree and debate – something not every person on earth can claim. We should set our disagreements aside this week – but be thankful we have the right to voice our opinions next week.
These ideals and values make possible everything else for which we give thanks this week.
So, as we gather with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving – either safely in person or digitally – let us give thanks that we are blessed to be American.