Thanksgiving 2020 will be a holiday in America like no other. Our lives have changed dramatically since March, when it became apparent that the coronavirus (COVID-19) strain circulating around the globe was going to be something of great concern. Within weeks, it exploded into a world-wide pandemic and shook us to the core like nothing this country has seen in 100 years.
The word “coronavirus” has become a part of our daily nomenclature. The early images were of the “red crown spike” created by a graduate of the University of Illinois Chicago. Nowadays, it’s the charts on our evening newscasts that track the cases and deaths. Here in the United States, we see cases exploding in many regions of the country and more of our fellow Americans perishing. The strain on our front-line medical personnel, first responders, essential workers, and businesses small and large is growing exponentially. Startingly, many don’t even believe the virus exists or view that it is politically hyped. As sad as it is, this pandemic has divided us more than it has brought us together.
So, what is there to be grateful for this Thanksgiving? Can we even get the words “Happy Thanksgiving” out of our mouths? We at Gazette Chicago say “yes,” that we need to push forward and reflect on the good things that we have in our lives. If nothing less, perhaps doing so will help us retain our sanity.
As we write this, please note that the November 3 national and state elections have yet to occur—this is just the publishing schedule we keep bringing you the news each month. So, we put an “asterisk” on this Thanksgiving message. Anyone familiar with this publication knows our political positions. Maybe if we “freeze frame” our lives and leap past November 3 to just focus on Thanksgiving for a moment—maybe that isn’t a bad way to reflect on some of the good around us. So, stay with us, and let’s see where we wind up.
We are thankful for our front-line healthcare teams. We say “Happy Thanksgiving” and “thank you!” to the doctors, nurses, respiratory care and physical therapists, the admitting clerks, the ER teams, the orderlies, the security staff, the administrators, custodians, social workers and mental health therapists, and everyone else at our area hospitals, medical centers, and clinics who continue to come to work each day, risking their lives in this pandemic to care for us, keep us healthy, and try to save the lives of the most vulnerable from the coronavirus. Thank you too, to our dentists, pharmacists, and their teams and to those who provide us the COVID-19 tests (see pages 4 and 5) to help us understand our personal health situations. Where would we be without these heroes?
We are thankful for our first responders. “Happy Thanksgiving” and “thank you!” to our police, fire, ambulance staff, and 911 workers who day after day are on our city streets doing their best to keep us safe and rush us to the hospital when we need immediate care or to be rescued from danger. On top of the worst pandemic to hit this country since 1918, we have had a summer of discontent like no other since 1968. The civil unrest has taken its toll on us as well as we have reeled from violence in our streets and damage to so many businesses. There is much discourse needed, necessary discourse, on police and community relations and police reform. Let’s set that conversation aside for just a moment and extend gratitude to those first responders who leave their homes every day and risk their lives for the rest of us.
We are thankful for our essential workers. “Happy Thanksgiving” and “thank you!” to our neighbors who show up every day in our stores, warehouses, factories, and offices and bring us the goods we need to get by each day. To the grocery store cashiers, stock people, butchers, and others who allow us to “mask up” and do our grocery shopping. To our small business and restaurant owners, to the chefs, waitresses and bartenders, florists, dry cleaners, and everyone else who hangs a shingle out every day and says “we are open.” To the truck drivers who deliver what we need to the grocery and retail stores. To the City of Chicago workers who fix our broken water pipes and keep our water supply safe, trim our trees, collect our refuse and recycling, and relace the lightbulbs in our streetlights. To our friends at the United States Postal Service, who too are under extreme duress from both the virus and a corrupt Federal administration. They are out there every day still moving millions of pieces of mail and the very ballots that are the backbone of our democracy. To our friends at Peoples Gas and ComEd who help keep us warm and provide the energy to run our homes, hospitals, and businesses. To the construction workers erecting our buildings and creating projects such as the Byrne Interchange so we can move more efficiently and safely. Where would we be without these friends and neighbors?
We are thankful for all who are doing their best to keep our educational system going in this pandemic. Like every other aspect of our lives, there is much debate over whether our schools should be open and what education should look like from preschool to high school and in higher education and within the health sciences. Let’s set those debates aside for a moment and say, “Happy Thanksgiving” and “thank you!” to our teachers, professors, administrators, IT staff, custodians, security teams, and so many others doing their best to help our children and young adults. Let’s remain patient until our educational systems can reopen fully and safely and be grateful for all those who still have a passion to help educate and challenge others to grow and learn.
We are thankful for our ministers, priests, religious (nuns and deacons), rabbis, and all those who bring us closer to our God and one another. Where would we be without our faith? Without the opportunity to worship either safely practicing social distancing or joining remotely through live feeds? We say, “Happy Thanksgiving” and “thank you!” to our religious leaders who have been a voice of reason during this pandemic and to the many volunteers who keep our worship sites open and safe. To our neighbors at the many religious, private, and civic organizations who provide the warm meals, shelter, and someone to talk to in these dark days. To those who go out daily and tend to the broken who are homeless and addicted (see our story on page 8 on the growing opioid crisis in Chicago). In times like these, we need God and each other more than ever.
We at Gazette Chicago are grateful to so many. We say, “Happy Thanksgiving” and ”thank you!” to our advertisers who, despite the many challenges they face, continue to support us so that we can support you. Community journalism has always been, and always will be, a partnership between publications, businesses, organizations, and the community. We are grateful to our news staff who work so hard to bring you the stories each month that make a difference in your lives, our advertising manager and graphic designers, photographers, and circulation helpers. We are grateful to you, our readers, who continue to find value in the relationship you have with us.
We also want to take a moment to say a special thank you and extend warm wishes to the staff at the Bridgeport News. Sadly, after an incredible 80-year run, this mainstay published its last issue on October 28. The publication will sorely be missed in our community. We wish the Feldman and Ryan families and editor Janice Racinowski all the best. Jan served as editor for an amazing 47 years. When Gazette Chicago expanded into the Bridgeport/Armour Square and Chinatown communities some 20 years ago, we never looked at the Bridgeport News as our competitor. The publication has had a very distinct niche in the community and we always valued its role. Every time a community newspaper shutters its doors, it is a great loss. This is so true at this time as we say good-bye to the Bridgeport News.
We know that the list above isn’t complete and we apologize to any person or group we might have missed. The message here is simple: in spite of the incredible pain, trauma, loss, and challenges that the coronavirus has caused us, we have to remember we have each other. We have our families and friends. We have neighbors who care for and look out for one another. We have people serving others in all walks of life to preserve life, to nurture life, to enrich lives.
So, Happy Thanksgiving. We wish you and those dear to you the very best in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Be grateful and reach out to someone who touches your lives and simply say, “thank you.”