By the time you read this, we will have passed the first Thanksgiving in our history without the traditional holiday norms. Extended gatherings were replaced by supper with only immediate family. Air and other travel were frowned upon. Even the vaunted Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade was different, a pre-taped event rather than a live parade.
Did we complain about this latest insult wrought by COVID-19? Sure we did, because it came in the same year as cancelled weddings, graduations and birthdays; closed schools; nursing homes without visitors; funerals without mourners.
As it now stands, nearly 270,000 Americans have died of COVID. The impact of that will take us past what will likely be a diminished Christmas season, and into 2021.
Here’s why: While the nation’s unemployment rate was lower in October than the month before, we are still short 10 million jobs since February, according to CNN. Our mental health isn’t great, either. A June survey by the CDC showed 10.7 percent of respondents reported seriously considering suicide in the previous 30 days.
Not much to give thanks for right? Wrong. It isn’t the 1930s, a decade in which Americans were starved of work and food. We aren’t in London during the Blitz, when the Germans bombed the city relentlessly, killing 43,000 civilians during World War II. Our politics, though riven by a divide wider than the Grand Canyon, have yet to be shamed by a scandal akin to Watergate.
Unlike those calamities, COVID can be limited by our own actions, including keeping our social distance. And an October Harris Poll survey shows most of us always wear our masks, macho indignation be damned.
Story after recent story in the Sun Newspapers has attested to the kindness of strangers filling pantries with food for the needy, donating protective equipment, supporting health-care workers.
Yes, we may have to see Santa through a plastic shield this year and cancel seasonal parties for offices now emptied of workers. Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas will be somewhat of a bummer.
And, yes, we’ll deal with it, knowing this moment in time can be eased by promising COVID vaccines and good, old-fashioned American resolve. Let’s give thanks for both.