This has been one horrible year. That’s an indisputable fact. Where in this dismal reality can thankfulness emerge?
For Americans, Thanksgiving Day is the occasion for reflection on what really matters. Families allow the problems that tarnish every year to fall away so that they can celebrate the warmth and togetherness that’s always been the core of the holiday.
But if a global pandemic has made such expansive togetherness unsafe? What then?
There are, in fact, many reasons for thankfulness, as dire as the world’s condition seems, and now is a good time to take stock of them.
Starting with the global view: In drawing up a list of heroes in the fight against COVID-19, the medical professionals worldwide have to rank right at the top.
Above all, the front-line doctors and nurses who are dealing with the endless challenges of the pandemic have earned universal gratitude — and sympathy.
Far too many have died after intensive exposure to the disease. Sadly, with the onset of winter across the Northern Hemisphere, their sacrifices are ongoing until they and first responders, most at risk, are given one of the newly tested vaccines.
And of those vaccines, the world also can be grateful for the investment — of the U.S. government, and that of other nations — in their formulation and manufacture.
In this country, what’s been dubbed Operation Warp Speed has accelerated the conventional vaccine development timeline immensely, which has given hope for an end to the pandemic in the foreseeable future.
Closer to home: Hawaii is fortunate to have a warmer climate than the other 49 states, which allows for more activities to be carried on with a lowered risk of infection. Families here can actually consider dishing up Thanksgiving meals outdoors, while most of their counterparts across the country would have to brave some pretty cold temperatures.
It is easy to feel frustrated at this time of year, that after eight months of dreary restrictions, there couldn’t be a bit of respite. Most people are tempted to forego precautions as the holidays approach. Do not.
Some don’t even need any particular excuse to let down their guard. A Maui crowd estimated at about 200 people flocked to Makena’s Little Beach on Sunday for no better reason than to flout the rules against social gatherings and have a party — a favorite activity there. State conservation enforcement officers shut it down.
Despite lapses — usually for better excuses than that, important events such as weddings and funerals — Hawaii residents have been largely cooperative with efforts to restrict activities that are known to increase the spread of the virus.
Mask-wearing here has not taken on quite the status of a symbol that it has elsewhere in the country, a trigger for a contentious debate. Most people here may feel occasionally annoyed by the necessity to wear one in most public places, but it generally ends there.
The absence of that stress, the general sense that Hawaii’s community simply does its best to follow the guidance in the interest of public health, is another cause for gratitude.
Above all, with the exception of those who have suffered from COVID-19, Hawaii residents can feel grateful for the way the islands have become one of the safer places, owing to their physical isolation and to generally responsible policies and practices being adopted and encouraged.
It is because of sacrifices people have made in the moment — today’s celebration with fewer friends and loved ones than usual — that they now can hope for all to be healthy for a future holiday, and find other ways to express love on this special day.