Can we see the light at tunnel’s end this Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving table with face mask. Photo courtesy of MGN Online

2020. Is there more to say?

People worldwide experienced loss and death in ways not even the deepest parts of their imagination would believe possible. 2020 was a year of so much uncertainty and darkness, it not only ruined everything that people anticipated and looked forward to for the year, it put traditions that families have done since the beginning of time on pause. Thanksgiving for one.

“This year’s Thanksgiving will be in California.”  “This year we will have a seafood Thanksgiving.” The excitement and preparation for such details about the joyful holiday quickly didn’t matter. The discussion became should Thanksgiving even happen? If there were gatherings with loved ones, the high risk of catching the virus or even death was also understood.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  “Most early reports of person-to-person SARS-CoV-2 transmission have been among household contacts.”

Anika Shone, a retired educator, watched as her family held a gathering that spread COVID-19. Stone, refusing to attend because of her prior health issues, received the news that multiple family members caught the virus, and her father passed away.

“Family is everything,” Shone said. “It is very important that families take the proper precautions before meeting because every day is not guaranteed.”

What was intended to be a great time during so much chaos, turned into a nightmare for her family.

By Thanksgiving last year, many of us were in a dark place.

Not feeling safe was normalized. Every day local places were OCD battles to make sure the wrong objects were not inhaled or touched. Toilet paper, gloves, masks, food, all became items, leaving every person for themselves. The closure of church services, restaurants, bars, theaters and malls, made the cities people call home, places many would never visit.

Uncertain energy still controls and captivates so many people’s emotions. Friends and family members are gone and two years ago, there was almost no doubt about them being able to attend graduations or other monumental moments in life.

However, the holiday season this year looks so much brighter. With amenities such as vaccinations and booster shots, there is hope to have a safe 2021 holiday season.

Realistically, it is a fact that COVID can still be spread among the vaccinated, but a study in Washington state with over 4 million fully vaccinated people shows, “about 1 in 5,000 experienced a breakthrough infection between January 17 and August 21, 2021.”

If 2020 has taught the world anything, it is that life is not to be taken for granted. It has become extremely clear that love is the most important thing. Cases are striking closer and closer to homes and the only two words to pinpoint are love and devastation. The World Health Organization reports that there have been 762,000 deaths in America due to COVID.

Leading to this moment to reflect on the privilege of having vaccinations and to encourage the remainder of those not vaccinated to get the shot.

Thanksgiving 2020 was a moment of stillness and uncertainty. Many reflect and acknowledge those lost along the way and are grateful for those who were fortunate to make it to this year’s celebration of gratitude.

Roland Hayes, 70, lost his wife Michelle Hayes last year around early November just before the holiday. He explains how it was a very low time, and through it all, he still had to isolate himself and not be surrounded by family because of the virus. He says he is grateful that his family can see each other at a lower risk this year.

“Thanksgiving last year was not a happy moment,” Hayes said. “I am looking forward to being with family this year because, at the end of the day, that is what matters.”