Tom Stangl

I realize I’m a week early, but with the holiday and postal delays next week, I thought it was best to be early — Happy Thanksgiving.

Yes, it’s time to contemplate our blessings.

I normally would have said it was time to gather as a family, enjoy a home cooked meal and re tell family myths and legends.

But, as we all know 2020 is far from a “normal” year.

Families are weighing the risks and benefits of gathering for Thanksgiving and looking ahead to next month’s Christmas and New Years holidays. With growth in local coronavirus cases, this is a decision that is personal and must be weighed properly, in my opinion.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Thanksgiving meal. My wife puts on a great meal and we have hosted our own and extended families over the years. In a normal year we would have our children and their families at our home.

There’s that “normal” word again. Must stop using it, probably until sometime next year.

Like all of you, I want the pandemic and the disruptions to our lives to end. It’s been a long eight months. Enough is enough, right?

Wrong.

The spring and summer of the pandemic being a problem affecting larger communities and distant lands has evolved into the fall and winter of our discontent. COVID-19 is here. I think many of can name people we know that have contracted the virus or tested positive. It is no longer an abstract concept, it is real and it is here.

I don’t want to debate the illness, mask wearing or social distancing here. The virus affects people in different ways. Some don’t even know they have it, others get very sick and the virus can kill some.

To me, that’s enough of a risk to try to be smart about my daily life, including the holidays.

My wife and I are planning on a quiet Thanksgiving meal at home. Just us and the dogs and cats. We may do a Zoom meal with the family, not sure yet.

I’m OK with this arrangement. Sure, I would love to see everyone and tease my children and grandchildren about what they will or won’t eat. I think it’s the job of a grandparent to encourage eating a second piece of pie. I believe it is enumerated somewhere in the Bill of Rights.

Meals come and go. We cook, eat and clean up. While a Thanksgiving feast is lovely, it’s not the essence of the holiday to me.

The core of Thanksgiving is being grateful for the blessings we have been given. It may be corny to say, but we all know it is true. I believe a year like are experiencing should hammer this home like a sledgehammer how good our lives are and will continue to be when the pandemic ends.

People are out of work, some are sick, some have lost loved ones. As tragic as much of this is, and I’m not trying to make light of anyone’s suffering, our ancestors endured much more hardship.

My parents lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They dreamed of a Thanksgiving dinner, especially when they went to bed hungry. Their parents went years without seeing their children who served in the war.

If they did all of that, I can miss a Thanksgiving.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

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