Happy Thanksgiving, Darn It!

The turkey is in the oven. The pies are baked. What passes for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is on the television.

All of the trimmings and trappings of a traditional Thanksgiving are here. But everything is different.

I have not seen my mom or my brothers or their families in nearly a year. Our son, who lives 20 minutes away, will not sit at our table this year. It’s hard. And I am ever so tempted to wallow in the unfairness of it all.

But I am determined not to do that. Why? Because there is much to be grateful for.

First, our family is whole. We have not experienced the tragic loss of a loved one to this virus. We are apart, but that separation is temporary – not forever.

I am still teaching. Even as my heart calls for the comfortable familiarity of my classroom, I realize how blessed I am to be able to teach our virtual students.

Many of these kids have health issues that put them at risk. Or they live with family members who have health concerns. They deserve great teachers.

And so, even though I would much rather be face-to-face, I will embrace Tuesday music days and virtual scavenger hunts, one-on-one tutoring sessions and discussions about our favorite books. I have lost my traditional teaching role, but have been so blessed to connect with these kids. That is a gift – to them and to me.

What else?

Well, with our vacation plans canceled, Jeff and I finally tackled a bunch of projects around the house. You know the ones I mean. Those projects that take just a little too much time and end up pushed aside in favor of far more entertaining endeavors. We had the time, so we made the most of it.

We tore down our rickety old shed, turned a spare bedroom into a comfortable office, replaced a few doors, replanted grass in our backyard. We. Got. Stuff. Done.

Anything else? I’m glad you asked.

In the midst of chaos, the American spirit has broken through. The acts of kindness we have witnessed this year are astonishing. From the pay it forward that stretched through 40 cars at our local Dunkin Donuts, to the donation of 20 turkeys from our local gym. From the take-what-you-need food pantries that have popped up all over northeast Ohio, to the way our community has rallied around our local businesses.

We have filled food pantries and brought groceries to our neighbors. We ordered take-out from local restaurants, and over-tipped bartenders and servers. We developed an appreciation for the grocery store employees and garbage collectors and truck drivers who keep this country moving.

Americans are capable of incredible generosity. And we have risen to the occasion in the most creative of ways.

You’re right – there are those who have chosen to moan and groan about the unfairness of it all. But the majority of us have set that aside and pulled together to do what Americans do best – pull up our socks and take on the challenge head on.

How blessed are we to live in this gloriously imperfect country? This Great Experiment that is still a work in progress. We mess up, but we keep moving forward in a way that is unlike any other country in the world.

But it’s just not the same, you say? I know. It’s sad. And I hate it.

But when you are forced to be separated, you realize how very precious relationships are. I don’t know about you, but I cherish conversations with my friends and family more than ever. Any activity that allows me to see a friendly face is cause for celebration. I long for the days when I will be able to hug my friends again. I’m a hugger. An elbow bump just doesn’t quite cut it.

But I still have my friends. And while my family has had a rough year, they are still here. So, I really can’t complain.

So this Thanksgiving, rather than complain about what I am missing, I will shed a few tears and then choose to be thankful for what I do have.

This is not the Thanksgiving any of us wanted, but we still have much to be thankful for.

From our home to yours, may you find faith, peace and joy today.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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