I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful For

Bing Crosby dines solo on Thanksgiving, in Holiday Inn.
I’ve got plenty to be thankful for
I haven’t got a great big yacht
To sail from shore to shore
Still I’ve got plenty to be thankful for
I’ve got plenty to be thankful for
No private car, no caviar
No carpet on my floor
Still I’ve got plenty to be thankful for
          –Irving Berlin, Holiday Inn.

No, really.

2020 has been an overachiever, starting pretty much right out of the gate. Remember January? According to the Internet, January included the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani by US airstrike; a complete reshuffling of the Russian government; the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter; locusts in Africa, deadly bushfires in Australia, earthquakes and volcanos and, oh yeah, Donald Trump was impeached.

That’s enough for a reasonably busy year, but no, 2020 was just getting warmed up. Since January Trump has been acquitted by the Senate; George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a horrifying number of men and women of color have been killed by the police meant to protect them. There have been bee swarms and murder hornets, many mass shootings, the Boy Scouts filing for bankruptcy… Oh, and the endless run up to the election. If I were this year I’d want to lie down, but 2020 was made of sterner stuff. The hits just kept on coming… with COVID woven like a ribbon through the fabric of the year, and 250,000 dead.

So the CDC, finally eluding the current administration’s guard dogs, has said, in no uncertain terms, Do Not Gather for Thanksgiving This Year. To which I say Amen. But not because there’s not a lot to be grateful for.

I was thinking about this the other day. I, personally, have huge numbers of things to be thankful for, but I think gratitude is appropriate on a much larger scale…. Imagine living through a plague in a less advanced time. Imagine no hope of a cure or a vaccine, because science didn’t have the understanding or the tools. As a society we’re spoiled enough to think that there should be instant, consistent answers to a problem like this virus, but really: the speed at which things have moved this year has been breathtaking (for comparison, the last major vaccine, for mumps, took four years to be approved).

Everyone bitches about Zoom, but imagine the last 10 months without the internet? Yes, this has been a hard, isolated time for many of us, but imagine staying in your house for months, terrified of contact with the outside world (and without any understanding of how to mitigate the danger of contagion). So communication? A definite plus, even with the high background noise of disinformation that comes with it.

We’ve have access to so much (thanks to the literally death-defying work of the USPS and foodworkers and delivery folk and all the people up and down the supply chain who have kept so much coming while others hunkered down in comparative safety). I am grateful every day to the folks at my local market, who come in, mask up, squirt hand sanitizer on you when you come in, and check you out, while exchanging the usual neighborhood gossip.

I’m thankful for all the hard work that went into ensuring that this election went as smoothly as it did–six months ago it sounded like it might be a howling maelstrom of chaos (well, it was, but not because the process itself didn’t work smoothly). That took hard work by everyone from the rank and file of the Postal Service, to the poll workers who put in 12 hour days to make sure everyone got a chance to vote. And I am grateful to and for all the volunteers who put in time to get out the vote, regardless of who each voter was selecting.

This year, in addition to all my blessings (I’m employed! My family and friends are thus far healthy and happy) I’m grateful for the invisible blessings my society has had to get it through this horrible, rough, no-good year. I’m grateful for the folks in this Treehouse, who are friends, colleagues, and survivors.

I really do have plenty to be thankful for. How about you?

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