It’s Thanksgiving Day 2020, and there is no way around it, this year it is really, really easy to find things to be very, very unthankful for:
Months of rioting, unrest and destruction in the streets of our nation; political acrimony so strong that longtime friendships and familial ties have been damaged or worse; a once-robust economy torn apart by a virus that has decimated the small business sector and the oil and gas industry – two giant cornerstones of our state’s financial system; and, most notoriously, the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself, which has contributed to the deaths of more than 261,800 Americans so far this year and infected more than 12.7 million. More than 1,450 New Mexicans have died and more than 88,000 have been infected.
But through it all, as we hunker down in near solitude (if one is wise), far from what were our holiday norms – sitting at table with family and friends, or shopping amongst the throngs seeking pre-Xmas bargains, or snuggling in a darkened, crowded theater with your sweetie – all these dismal happenings have only made it much more apparent how important our neighbors are. Especially those who are quietly performing what in today’s gloomy period are acts of heroism redefined.
And that means there actually is much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day 2020. Where do we start?
Let us now bow our heads and give thanks:
• For health care workers – all those doctors, nurses, X-ray techs, phlebotomists, maintenance and cafeteria staff and others who bravely go face-to-face with patients they know are infected with a deadly, easily transmitted disease with mere plastic, fiber and latex standing between them and potential disaster. To those who have already had multiple exposures leading to multiple COVID-19 tests yet still report daily for work, we offer extra gratitude.
• For caretakers – all those who assist the elderly, the long-term infirm and those with disabilities, who must be in close contact with those in their charge and take extra care in their private lives to avoid spreading the virus to an especially vulnerable population.
• For people in vital services – all those pharmacists, cashiers, stockers, butchers, dairy and produce workers, cooks and delivery staff, and plumbers, mechanics and many more in industry, commerce and the trades who leave the safety of their homes to make sure we have access to the medicines, food, hardware and other items we all need in our daily lives or who are willing to enter strange places to keep them running.
• For those who teach, whether in-person or remotely – all those who have been forced to relearn their professions on the fly and who daily face frustratingly uncharted waters, because helping develop the minds of students from the very young to those in college or trade school is just what they do, no matter what it takes.
• For first responders – all those police officers, firefighters and EMTs whose primary duty really is to be there for those in need of help.
• For those in the military – all those soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen and guardsmen who now also must keep close quarters while facing a more than flesh-and-blood enemy, whether stationed at home or abroad.
• For the religious – all those priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, monks and others who have had to find new ways to express hope and comfort to a world in the throes of panic, fear and loss.
• For civil servants – all those from decision makers to clerks and utility workers who keep our systems functioning, from maintaining infrastructure to issuing unemployment checks to making sure our money is properly and wisely spent.
• For media – all those reporters, photographers, producers and editors who find ways to keep a watchful eye on all this while maintaining a safe distance, so that accurate information is there to check the rumors.
Of course, these are just a few. Many, many others are out there who deserve our thanks today – and prayers for strength and well-being. Enough heroes to bring light to even the darkest of times.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.