Mid-November marks the advent of the holiday season in the US and many western cultures.
In the US, the third Thursday in November is our celebration of Thanksgiving, a holiday rooted in our Native American heritage and dedicated to giving thanks to the Great Spirit for the bounty of the harvest which will sustain us through the long, harsh winter.
This year, we had planned to host the annual Thanksgiving feast. My older daughter’s birthday always falls on the week of Thanksgiving, and this being her 21st, a special celebration was in order. My sister and nephew were traveling to Illinois from Alabama, and my mother, mother-in-law my, and my wife’s brother all planned to come together to share time, family, and lots of good food.
Then COVID-19 reared its ugly head.
My younger daughter’s friend who had visited our house the week prior tested positive. My brother-in-law is immune-compromised, and our mothers are both in their mid to late 80’s, and because of CDC recommended quarantine procedures, we had to cancel our plans.
Needless to say, my family was disappointed. What a pity party we had! Tears were shed. My daughter’s 21st birthday plans were ditched. Our quick getaway to a favorite nearby destination was canceled. I heard complaints about the unfairness of it all, and how we’re letting a stupid flu bug run our lives.
It then occurred to me what COVID-19 is truly all about. We have been conditioned to think about COVID as the enemy, a foe, an invader. We see it as an evil incursion into our comfortable existence, a disruption to our routines, an inconvenience, and an obstacle to our happiness and peace.
How narcissistic we have become! Working in concert, the media and corporate America have convinced us to think “me first.” What do I want? What do I need? What do I want to look like? What is in my best interest? What does the world owe me? All of this personal empowerment is cleverly disguised as caring advice from a thoughtful corporate parent looking out for our best interests, when in fact it is merely an appeal to our vanity and selfishness as a means to increase sales.
It became apparent to me that what COVID has done, above all else, is force us to pause and consider others first and how our actions could impact the safety and wellbeing of those around us. So, at this time of Thanksgiving, it seems only fair to give COVID-19 its due.
Thank you, COVID-19, for shifting our focus from our own selfish needs and wants and the outward trappings of the material world to the welfare and wellbeing of others.
Thank you, COVID-19, for allowing us to slow down, turn inward, and pay more attention to the feelings that speak to us but which we rarely hear above the din of our daily existence.
Thank you, COVID-19, for helping us to remember that our physical bodies are a gift and how precious and important our health and feeling good each day truly is.
Thank you, COVID-19, for aiding in the healing of our planet by reducing the number of cars on our roads and slowing the pace at which industry poisons our atmosphere and pollutes our water.
Thank you, COVID-19, for teaching us to be grateful for the small, the insignificant, and all we have come to take for granted such as our food, our homes, the company of others, and our freedoms.
Thank you, COVID-19, for helping us to begin to let go of old paradigms and stale energies by pushing us to invent new ways of conducting business, delivering education, and engaging with each other.
Thank you, COVID-19, for uniting us as a world population as never before by helping us realize we are not separate countries or races, but co-citizens of a global community with more in common than we might have believed.
And thank you, COVID-19, for bringing our families closer together and allowing us to spend more quality time with those who truly matter to us.