A thanksgiving in the books and for the ages. That odd feeling of having that time off to spend time with family, but only a select few. As people gathered together in small quantities for the holiday. The pandemic rages on like a tornado causing destruction in its path. That wishy washy feeling that hits your gut on what is the right decision to make. In the news, warnings are plastered everywhere. Don’t get together at this time, it can be detrimental to our current state with the virus. What decision did you decide to make on thanksgiving this year? Did you place yourself in harms way and take a risk at gathering in large numbers for your normal thanksgiving holiday? Or did you choose to sit home and enjoy with the people you are constantly around?
The pandemic has brought on a new meaning for our holiday season. It’s tested the human spirit more than ever. People losing jobs, the ability to go out and travel has become more of a challenge than it can be worth at times, and simple trips to the grocery store have you feeling like you’re headed to a new world. Not to mention the health of our family and friends. I could probably say that all of us, now know at least someone that has been affected by the virus. It’s an interesting time. Could we have imagined the situation that we are in currently? How did we get to this gloomy scenario in the world?
My memories of thanksgiving are quite vivid. Our family would gather every year at my aunts house. We would travel from Mount Pleasant to Grand Blanc. I always assumed it was the same in most American families at the time, but I could be wrong. The women in the family would prepare the meal, while the men would sit around the living room, watching whoever the Lions would end up losing to that day in football. Conversations about how everyone had been for the year and new situations that may have arose. The children would bounce back and forth between playing video games and playing touch football outside. As the day moved on, we got filled up on a copious amount of food and took family pictures after. The day would end and we would part ways with a bit of exhaustion, but also a sense of familiarity.
Being that I have lived away from Michigan for over ten years now and I’ve worked retail for that time, it has been unrealistic to head back to join the family for the holidays. Turns out Black Friday is a pretty big deal in the retail world. Part of me still felt a connection to the event, knowing that my family was still getting together. The event changed through the years and grew smaller. Sadly with time, children got older and moved away and my aunt and grandparents passed. It changed the meaning of the holiday to an extent. The family separated and started having smaller, immediate family thanksgivings. It seems like it gets harder to keep connected as life events happen in your family. Regardless, my family still had some type of Thanksgiving together, even if it wasn’t the scenario I was used to as a child.
This year saddened me a bit more. Even though nothing has changed with me and my ability to make it back on Thanksgiving, my family is not gathering together. In a time that we all probably needed to be unified with our families more than ever, we have to make a decision not to. We have to decide what’s best for the health of our families, regardless of our need of culturally significant events in our lives. As the pandemic now moves into a deadly scenario and the economy continues to shut down, we have to be smart about the current situation.
The famous quote from Jurassic Park, “life finds a way”. Life is finding a way and it did through Thanksgiving. Families on zoom calls sitting over a Thanksgiving feast, calling each other and sharing moments of happiness in their lives. Small immediate families joining together and changing their normal routines of large gatherings to maintain their families health. Mothers and daughters gathered outside windows of grandparents homes, wishing them a happy holiday and talking about their lives. Charitable people bringing food and blankets to the homeless. Along with many more acts of kindness and unity through the United States. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and life does find a way. We just have to think intelligently through the next month. The holidays can be challenging for us not to embrace each other in close proximity, but we must. The risk can be too much to burden.
The holidays are a time to be thankful. Be thankful to have a family. The past holidays that you have been fortunate enough to experience with everyone. Talk about future plans with your families and friends. What will you do together after we make it through this time. The greatest learnings in life, all have to do with facing challenges and persevering. We will persevere through this as a society and overcome. This year it becomes more about our past and our future than the present. Just don’t sell your present short. There is a lot to love and live for in the now. Always remember, the famous quote, “today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present”. Take today as a gift and celebrate it for what it is. Think to next year and the gifts that you have yet to open, the future is bright. Stay safe this holiday season, so you can open more of these amazing gifts in the future.