A year ago we were saddened as many Americans delayed or put aside their traditional Thanksgiving celebration, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic that threatened to turn family gatherings into super-spreader events.
“As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States,” the CDC said on its website, “the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.”
In North Carolina at the time, deaths surpassed the 5,000 mark and total cases passed 337,000.
Today in North Carolina, deaths have surpassed 18,562 and total cases have passed 1,512,489.
The deaths and debilitating cases continue today.
We had hoped to return to some semblance of normal this year.
But whether we can depends largely on how our family members have behaved over the last year — whether they took the pandemic seriously and joined so many others in giving thanks for the vaccines that finally became available — the vaccines that were touted by the Trump administration before they were delivered and the Biden administration afterward.
In North Carolina, more than 7 million people, 68% of the state, have received at least one dose of the vaccine (why only one?) and almost 6 million, or 53% of the population, have been fully vaccinated. We don’t yet have firm numbers of how many have received boosters.
The first order of business may be for those who have been vaccinated to give thanks for that fact. New data released by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services last week shows that unvaccinated people in the state are more than 25 times more likely to die from COVID than vaccinated people. Unvaccinated North Carolinians are also five times more likely to get COVID.
It’s tempting to drop all defenses, especially after missing out last year. The heart yearns for normalcy and the comfort of family — and food.
But doing so could still make this the last Thanksgiving that many celebrate. Nobody wants that.
For a few years now we’ve been entertained by comedians who tell jokes about that one uncle at the dinner table who insists on ruining the day for everyone by discussing politics. Now the day could be ruined by those who insist on putting family members at risk.
That should not be the case. On the day we set aside to give thanks for our many blessings, as a nation, as families, as individuals, a little grace would also be order. Don’t make things difficult for your family.
In hopes that that is ’nuff said, we turn to our more traditional offering of some of our favorite Thanksgiving passages, which have comforted and encouraged us on this special day:
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
“Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
“It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
— Abraham Lincoln
“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
“Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance.
“Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.”
— Ronald Reagan
“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”
— Henry David Thoreau
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
— Meister Eckhart
“This food is the gift of the whole universe — the Earth, the sky, and much hard work. May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”
— W. Clement Stone