This is the time of year when we “formally give thanks.” In 2020, this invokes a variety of emotions. After all, we’ve all had a challenging year in one respect or another. This shouldn’t take away, however, from the incredible things our fellow citizens have done over this same period. And they deserve our respect and appreciation. This list is not nearly all-inclusive, and yet I’d still like to recognize a few of these brave souls. Of course, we start with the front-line workers, EMTs, Medical, Police, Fire, and Rescue personnel. Then, there are the “other” front-line workers, in grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores, that provide our necessities. And the restaurant and fast-food workers who work tirelessly, in a stressful environment, providing food for us during these times. Not to forget the Food Bank and Crisis Control Ministry workers and volunteers helping those hit hardest. The retail store workers who allow us also to purchase those not-so-necessary items and provide us a feeling of normalcy at a time that is, let’s face it, far from it. The utility workers that keep our electricity, water, and gas working consistently. The creative Netflix and Hulu teams that have provided much-needed streaming entertainment to soothe the boredom of being inside. While I’m on the subject, to those in the NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, NASCAR, and the NFL, who made sacrifices to play the games for their enjoyment and our entertainment, feeding our desperate sports fanatical side.
Then, of course, there are the firefighters in California and the West Coast battling the wildfires, and the emergency management teams on the Gulf Coast helping those affected by the hurricanes across those states this year. And those who participated in “peaceful protests” to bring about positive change in our socio-economic culture and make a lasting and meaningful impact on future generations. The scientists who are working diligently on a vaccine and therapeutics to help those affected by Covid-19. The dedicated election poll workers who made it possible to vote under these conditions.
I’d also like to thank the Winston-Salem/Forsyth-County School System and everyone involved for their commitment to providing a quality, online education for the thousands of students in the district, and their efforts to keep them safe. A special thanks for what the school administrators, teachers, and staff did to put on a virtual high school graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020, allowing graduates to personally receive their diplomas in a safe and socially distant environment. This made the best of a bad situation, and provided an unbelievable and yet true memory for a lifetime.
And finally, I’d like to thank my oldest son, who is also in the “essential worker” category. He’s continued to brave the elements each day throughout this pandemic, all while adhering to strict safety measures for himself and those around him. I know it’s tough on him, but so is he (tough, that is). And I’m proud of him for taking this pandemic seriously and caring about the health and well-being of his family, friends, co-workers, and the general public in the process. That says a lot about the character of a young person in these tumultuous times.
To those who’ve lost loved ones this year, my thoughts and prayers are with you as well. 2020 will be a year we will never forget.
Unique as this year has been, if we take note of The Five Givens in Life, by psychotherapist and writer David Richo, Ph.D., it might bring a sense of order within the chaos knowing they still ring true, regardless of the circumstances. “Number one, everything changes and ends. Number two, things don’t always go according to plan. Number three, life is not always fair. Number four, suffering is a part of life, it’s unavoidable; and number five, people are not loving and loyal all the time.”
As we take in this moment to reflect on what it’s meant to us, I’m inspired by the insightful quote from the movie, Tomorrowland (Walt Disney Pictures, 2015). “There are two wolves and they are always fighting. One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope. Which wolf wins? The answer is…whichever one you feed.”
While we labor through this difficult period in our history with the pandemic and the economic uncertainty, let us feed light and hope in our life and the lives of those around us. You never know whose life you may positively impact by providing encouragement and the boost they need to persevere in their struggles and challenges ahead. They may return the favor someday.
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