*The turkey artwork is courtesy of my Kindergarten son.*
When I was in college, the United States was involved in conflict in the Middle East. The happenings and places felt worlds away. And, the sacrifice of war was unfathomable to me.
As time went on, family members and friends helped me understand what Americans have given up in times of struggle. My grandma talked about collecting newspapers and old tires, during World War II. My great-uncle, from his wheelchair in the nursing home over my Christmas break, sternly told me that just as soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were missing the holidays, he missed five Christmases while serving in the Great War. My great-grandmother who lived through the Great Depression, never wasted water, and could feed a small village on just one can of tuna. And, my friend Brandon returned to UND with a prosthetic arm, after losing his own in Iraq.
Early this spring, two of my neighbor friends shared with me stories of their mothers, both over 100 years old at the time, and how resilient they were, even though isolated in their nursing homes. Those women, and my 87-year old grandmother, have a keen sense of adapting through struggle. They say things like, “Well, it’s just the way it is,” and they mean it. I often go back to the sentiments of these wise women, and think of the adversity they have overcome in their lifetimes, when I start complaining about petty Covid-induced things.
Our worlds have changed a lot because of Covid-19, and we’ve all begun to learn about sacrifice. And I don’t mean toilet paper. I mean the sacrifice of not seeing our family. Not hugging people we love. We have sacrificed our work, our activities, our businesses, our social lives. And most importantly, our children’s schools. Sacrifice that none of us had ever thought we’d see in our lifetime, especially not in such a rich and bustling America.
And now here we are, on the eve of a pandemic Thanksgiving. We will celebrate with fewer. And we will prepare a bit less food. One of my friends called me to chuckle that she bought a turkey breast and just a few potatoes, because after all, that’s all that her small family would need.
What do we need this Thanksgiving? We need a lot of thankfulness. We need to think of those who came before us, who persevered through wars, bread lines, and a run on the banks. We need to appreciate the valuable lifelong lessons they shared with us, especially about sacrifice. We need to honor their memories.
We need to reflect upon what we have in life, and not what we want, or what we may be missing this year. We need to remember those hearts that everyone placed on their windows this spring. Even if the hearts are gone, the sentiment is not. “We’re all in this together.”
No one is immune from Covid’s effects. Young children miss their classrooms and friends, and teenagers miss their sports. Adults miss knowing the future of their business, the state of their mortgage, and fear whether they can afford groceries. The elderly miss visitors and small outings. Volunteers wonder just how much they can do to help all those in need. Medical professionals and essential workers are exhausted and overworked.
Sure, we wish it could be different, but this year, under the circumstances, we have to sacrifice. “It’s just the way it is.”
Even if Thanksgiving is different, we can still cherish friendships, we can still be kind, and we can still spread love. “We’re all in this together.”
Happy Thanksgiving my friends. Please take time to reflect on all of your rich blessings. And as you give thanks for your blessings, maybe you can pay some of them forward to the less fortunate. Stay safe and well, and may God bless you and your families.
Love and peace,
"You’ve been so kind and generous I don't know how you keep on giving For your kindness I'm in debt to you
"For your selflessness my admiration For everything you've done you know I’m bound I’m bound to thank you for it" ~ Kind and Generous by Natalie Merchant