Editorial: Finding reason to be thankful in 2020

In 2020, we have more to be thankful for than ever.

It might not seem that way. It’s been, by most accounts, the worst year in recent memory.

We’ve spent the past eight months in a global health crisis, endured a particularly brutal presidential campaign and observed civil unrest across the country in response to a police killing of an unarmed Black man. Each of these incidences, not just the election, have led to sharp political debates that have furthered the divide in our nation, our hometown and our families. In 2020, we lost friends and loved ones in unprecedented levels — and not just due to COVID-19.

We can lament all of this and fill our Thanksgiving 2020 with pain and sorrow or we can live out the holiday as it was intended.

The word “thanksgiving” means an expression of gratitude. The holiday of Thanksgiving — which will be celebrated in our country for the 400th time this Thursday — means so much more. It’s a time for family, a day of celebration and a period of rest and reflection. 

This year on Thanksgiving, we’re finding the silver lining in the things that have made the past several months such a challenge. 

Here’s why we’re giving thanks:

• We’re here. Maybe it’s a bit melodramatic to be thankful to be alive, but this year we saw many familiar faces here one day and gone the next. We should all allow time this Thanksgiving to honor those we lost in the pandemic.

• Our communities are mostly doing their part in stopping the spread. It’s easy to get frustrated at the loudmouth on social media complaining about his freedom and having to wear a mask. It’s infuriating to see him out in public. But as we travel the North Fork it’s good to see that so many people have changed their behaviors for the common good.

• There is nothing more remarkable this year than how when many of us hunkered down and turned spare rooms into home offices, our doctors, nurses, first responders and all workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic stared down this deadly virus on a daily basis. It’s true heroism.

• Our business community is also fighting the good fight. With curbside pickup, tables in streets, heated tents and other adaptations, we’re seeing North Fork businesses do whatever it takes to survive in 2020. And the economic devastation that was predicted has, to date, been mitigated as much as possible. We hope our local business community continues to receive the support it needs from both our federal government and the public. 

• A discussion is happening on police reform. There are some institutions — our school systems and the media leap to mind — where the American public seems to unite in picking apart shortcomings. There are others, like our law enforcement, where criticism is off limits for many. In 2020, though progress has been minimal to this point, a discussion is being had on how we can better police our communities. Everyone should want to be a part of that conversation.

• Our police are here for us. As we sit down around the table this Thanksgiving, we must not forget that the men and women in blue will be answering the call to handle emergencies and to continue to make our neighborhoods safe. They are doing so under greater scrutiny. Yes, it is possible to want better and to still respect and be grateful for what we have.

• Lastly, we’re grateful to live in a democracy where we choose our elected leaders. For anyone who witnessed long lines on Election Day and the early voting period, we hope it was reassuring to see that as Americans we have a say in who our elected leaders are. It’s wonderful to see that more people are exercising their right to vote than ever before. We might not share the same opinions — or even be able to agree on the same set of facts — with those we’ll share a holiday table with this year, but we take comfort knowing that at the end of the day, this is still a country where that’s OK.