Is it possible to be safe this Thanksgiving and holiday season? That's the question that millions of families will be asking themselves during the upcoming days and weeks. This holiday season will be unlike any in my life as we face the challenges presented by COVID-19. It's hard to believe that this invisible virus must now be accounted for in order to protect ourselves and the vulnerable members of their families. While the cases of COVID-19 are increasing rapidly, after spending months alone or mostly solitary, the question is whether many Americans are willing to continue to make that sacrifice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Protection advise bringing "your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils" to holiday gatherings. Additionally, the CDC suggests that you should wear a mask at all times except while eating or drinking, and they advise that meals should occur outdoors. With these types of restrictions, is Thanksgiving the same or does it merely become just another event? It's difficult to see how the true meaning of Thanksgiving could remain the same under such harsh and drastic circumstances.
Despite this bizarre new reality, my hope is that people adapt to these new circumstances and find reasons to be thankful. When I wrote this column, more than 245,000 Americans had died from COVID-19 and there were roughly 11 million cases. The virus is wreaking havoc on many unsuspecting Americans. People never expected their lives to come to such a sudden end or to see spouses, children, relatives and friends lose someone they deeply loved. The fact that we are still among the living should be reason enough to give God thanks.
So often we find ourselves moving through life, following our daily routines, grinding and chasing the next shiny object. How often do we stop to think about the most important gift, the gift of life? How often do we stop to give thanks for the blessings we have received regardless of what situation we may find ourselves in today?
Being alive means you have a chance to continue to improve. In tragedies like COVID-19 there is always a silver lining, and, in this instance, the pandemic has humbled a great many of us. So many people walk around arrogantly, believing nothing can touch them because of stature, wealth or fame; however, the coronavirus treats us all the same. It doesn't distinguish by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, party affiliation or class. In other words, when it comes to COVID-19, we're all equal and there's something about that reality that should give us all humility and grace.
Perhaps this is the reality check that America needed. A check on greed, a check on overconsumption, a check on walking away from God and faith. The 2020 election cycle demonstrated just how much politics have divided us, so much so that we've become unrecognizable to ourselves. Hopefully, when the dust settles from the election, rather than continued strife and division, a sense of calmness will prevail and there will be calls for us to return to civility, norms and the moral standards that have made the United States the greatest country in the world. I worry about what the future holds for our nation if we do not take this time to reflect and reunite.
While it has certainly not been easy to adjust to this "new normal," surviving this pandemic will require unity, something that our country has been lacking for far too long. As we practice the safety guidelines outlined by our doctors and scientists this Thanksgiving, we should each remember the standards and ideals laid by our Founding Fathers, which have made the United States of America a beacon of hope and freedom for the world. Let us give thanks for another day and the opportunity to be better tomorrow than we were today, and certainly better than we were yesterday because there are people who do not have this opportunity. This is our goal, and, perhaps, the pandemic is our impetus or our call to action. This cannot be accomplished alone; the burden is on each and every one of us. Be thankful, give grace, and never lose sight of just how incredible and fleeting life is.