We think back to a year ago Thanksgiving and it seems like a lifetime ago. So much has happened that we have not been happy about but so much more we are grateful for and for the people that make it their business to be there for us when around us the world seems a scary and hopeless place.

We know the litany by heart by now, the first responders and the medical wizards who meet us at the doors of the emergency rooms and kept the virus infect alive through the worst and in many cases were with them at the end when no one else could be there.

Who are these people and what makes them this way? Is hero a good enough word? Does “angel” describe them adequately? Saying “Thank you” on Thanksgiving seems so feeble in comparison to their super-powers.

Scientists come to mind and the “lab rats” with specialized skill sets and fearless volunteers whose sense of humanity put them to the task of finding and testing a vaccine that will smack this virus upside its head and say “enough is enough.”

Teachers teach. That is what they do and they did it virtually with their own learning curve to conquer first. They get a star, an A+ and E for extra effort. This is what you call duty above and beyond the call.

There were some other extraordinary people who come in minimum wage sizes, we learned during the early days of the pandemic. They kept us fed by keeping supermarket shelves stocked and, by extension, our kitchens stocked.

They stayed healthy so they could keep on helping us day after day after day and we thank their employers who rewarded them with bonuses and raises.

We are thankful America’s food supply chain held and continues to do so. Way to go food supply chain.

Although the personal protective equipment, sanitizers of all kinds and personal commodities like toilet paper were a different story.

This stuff lagged dangerously behind in supply against an artificial demand fueled by hoarding and in some cases black marketeering, at least for the first half of the pandemic. Those problems appear to have been solved for winter 2020-2021.

If we were Pollyanna, we might say we were thankful for the real time lesson in what it’s like to need versus what it is to simply want.

On a personal note, I would like to thank the family who did not choose each other but who share a DNA as undeniable as history and strong as love. We’d recognize each other anywhere even if we had never met.

Since this has been a COVID-19 year, I am thankful just one grandkid contracted it and is fine now. Of the three in college, two are in large east coast metropolitan area universities. Mr. “I Survived COVID-19” goes to school in Montana. Go figure.

I am thankful for those good friends who keep me sane with their gifts of silliness and secrets and are the same as family, my “chosen people.”

You know who you are and who you have always been. We must hang on to one another tightly. Our numbers are growing fewer and fewer.

Next year at Thanksgiving, if all goes according to plan, we will be giving thanks for a vaccine that saved us from mourning another 5,800 deaths and tending to 312,000 illnesses from this virus.

We will be celebrating the expedient and fair system developed to distribute the vaccine and that there was just one misguided person who went on TV claiming it was a government conspiracy and introducing himself as a member of the new White Supremacist Anti-Vaxer Party.

He will, of course be wearing a hat made of aluminum foil fresh off his Thanksgiving turkey.

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