Thanksgiving in a pandemic


78 years ago my grandfather was stuck in a hospital with suspected tuberculosis. He didn’t get to see his family or anyone he loved for Thanksgiving. Christmas would be the same. In fact he would spend the next several months in hospitals, getting his lung collapsed and being medically discharged from the US Army. It sucked. My heart broke for him and them as I read these letters, as I transcribed these letters, as I laid out the book and every time I go through each round of edits. 

2020 has not been what any of us expected. The upheavals to all our lives have been immense. Lost jobs, closed businesses, health concerns. I deal with depression and anger and anxiety, but now I have hope again. I also know there’s so much we have to do to repair much of the damage trump did these past few years. 

There’s a lot of suck. Turn to your military family and friends and ask them right now, what does “embrace the suck” mean? You’re sure to get an earful, perhaps some stories, probably some NSFW antidotes. To me it means we’re dealing with it. We are currently above ground, dealing with the hard things. We keep swimming, we pull on the big kid underpants, we keep going as best we can, sometimes with tears in our eyes or cuss words spilling from our lips. We build resilience each day by remembering we have survived 100% of the hard days so far, so we know we can keep going.

Personally, I’m tired of just surviving. I look forward to being able to thrive again. I look forward to hugging family and strangers, to rebuilding and reopening a business, to getting to a point of looking back on this year and going “wow, that did suck. But here’s where it made me/us stronger. And here’s what I know I can handle now because I did what was required of myself to survive that.”

The leaps of science from this year are amazing, from the vaccines to therapeutics to the energy sectors and climate change awareness. The levels of understanding surrounding mental health, communication, and work-life needs have given us better goals both in and out of offices or jobs. Acknowledgement of harm to people based on skin color or based on life situations or based on archaic gender ideas is both better than it was and still has so much further to go. 

We chose not to risk seeing family right now. We chose not to risk traveling. We are lucky in that my partner has a job and we have a roof over our heads. We are lucky in that we are not in a hospital right now, when so many are. There are lights on the horizon of this dark night, and I do have hope we can make next year better on so many levels. 

If my grandfather could keep his faith with far more unknowns in his life than we have in ours, with far fewer options for communication – he wrote letters daily, while we can text, call, and video chat – then we can handle wearing masks to protect ourselves and others, social distance, and work on being better to each other.