Thankful for freedom, but at risk of losing it

By Barbara Simpson

It wasn’t easy to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. It was impossible not to be affected by medical news and warnings about COVID-19. To hear the reports, we are all walking contaminants and a threat to anyone and everyone with whom we might have contact.

The basic advice – rather, warnings – was that we should all stay put at home. Do not travel, and do not have any kind of get-togethers with friends and/or family.

The warnings were dire, yet the media reported that there were millions who hit the airports and the roads to make those holiday get-togethers happen.

It’s hard, if not difficult, to change lifetime habits.

Thanksgiving for Americans, traditionally, is a time for families to get together and share the holiday meal – turkey and all the trimmings.

I know for my family, which over the years has become spread across the country – if we couldn’t get together in person, the telephone became the way we made contact. Now in addition to that, we have the internet, which makes it even easier and more personal. Of course, there is always the mail – cards and letters to add another personal touch to staying connected – sending good wishes and hellos across the miles.

That is exactly what we did – I stayed put, but we reached out and made the familial connection to those we love, even if we don’t see them as often as we’d like. I know we weren’t alone in that, and despite the determined travel of so many, probably an equal number stayed home and reached out with love in other ways.

Those who did had to ignore the efforts of mainstream media, which did their best to discourage holiday contact and drown us in a pool of health warnings. The purpose of Thanksgiving as a national holiday was ignored. Rather, it was treated and demeaned as merely a commercial effort to boost consumer sales – you know, Black Friday and all.

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Media dutifully ignored the fact that there’s a long history to the holiday. President George Washington, in 1789, set aside this day of thanks for all Americans, to mark the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.

They ignored that in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln designated a day of Thanksgiving for our freedoms and liberties. They also ignored that President Roosevelt, in 1941, established the fourth Thursday of November as an official Thanksgiving holiday for this country.

So, the efforts to destroy the celebration of Thanksgiving because of COVID didn’t really make much of an impression on the average American. Those who wanted to travel, did. Those who didn’t, celebrated in their own way.

The whole concept of giving thanks is one that has different meanings for each person. It may have something to do with religion, but it also can have a purely secular meaning.

Think about it. What are you “thankful” for? Your health? Your family? Where you live? Your role in life? The opportunities you have had in schooling and/or employment? Your skills – physical, mental, creatively?

How about the travel you have been able to do? The people you met and friends you made? What you learned about yourself and the world?

And speaking of friends, how thankful are you for them – those from childhood, your growing years, your teens, adulthood, middle age and elder years? Did you take the opportunity of the day to contact them?

I don’t know about you, but I did. I also received phone calls from people I haven’t seen in years but who are part of my life. We had the time to catch up. It was wonderful – and COVID free! I was (and am) grateful they thought enough of me to call. These are people – friends and relatives – with whom I share many memories.

These are the things that constitute life. It’s up to each of us to keep those contacts alive.

Aside from these personal aspects of “giving thanks,” there is the important aspect of being thankful we live in a country that honors freedom and equality.

Yes, there are efforts to destroy that, and this is a particularly difficult time for all of us who value essential American freedoms. When there is a concerted movement in private arenas and in national media to denigrate what this country was founded upon and what we have done over the decades, it’s critical that American patriots unite in their beliefs and act in ways to protect our history and our rights.

Every one of us must remember that if we do not protect our freedoms, we will lose them. It’s as simple as that. Just because we have been safe all these years does not mean we’re not in a precarious position today. We are.

There are those just waiting to take advantage of our weaknesses.

We must admit that and stand ready to be on the defense. That’s the biggest issue this year. Not COVID but the attempts to destroy our history and our freedoms.

Be thankful, we still have the opportunity to protect ourselves from those who would destroy us – we the people of the United States of America.

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