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Giving thanks in a pandemic

Don't get me wrong.

I wish I could bottle up the pandemic and throw it far out to sea. I am heartbroken by the misery it has caused and the unimaginable loss.

But here we are, on the cusp of Thanksgiving 2020, in what will become, for all us I'm sure, one of the most memorable years of our lives.

I find that I am indeed ready to give thanks for some things, maybe much more than usual at this time of year.

Of course, I am always thankful to live here in eastern Connecticut. I can't say for sure it is one of the most remarkable places on earth, but I've traveled enough to know it should be on the list. That's clear as we make another seasonal transition, from the fulsome glory of shoreline fall to the stark bite of winter.

It turns out it was a pretty good place to weather a pandemic. Who knew we'd turn out to generally be a community of good mask wearers?

I am overwhelmingly grateful that we seem to be finally concluding a momentous election, one that has unfolded with surprisingly little of the turmoil, even violence, that had been predicted, with calls for white supremacists to "stand by" and a haunting promise not to abide by the results.

Hair dye mixing with sweat on the face of presidential lawyer and jester Rudy Giuliani appears now to be the last scene and final comic act of an exhausted legal challenge to our democracy by the 45th president.

I am grateful, too, that Donald Trump, in his outsize role as sore loser, appears to be the problem now of the Republican Party, which he will continue to dominate and maybe destroy in the coming years.

The rest of us, all around the world, are just about out of the Trump woods. Boy, am I grateful for that.

I'm thankful eastern Connecticut had a successful election season, despite the pandemic, with a good discussion of ideas and our first taste of widely available mail-in voting.

I might have hoped for different outcomes in some of the races, but it was a good, fair fight and I salute the winners. I'm grateful, too, we now have very broad representation across the region by both of the state's major parties.

I take that as more people and institutions to hold responsible.

I am grateful for the way we as a region joined the rest of the country during the pandemic to address systemic racism. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I am not sure we would have reacted the same way in normal times, without the pandemic laying bare the intolerable inequality in the country, shedding new light on a long history of racism.

I am thankful for the state's passage of a police accountability act, a call to arms that elected leaders took as seriously as they did the enactment of gun control laws after Sandy Hook.

But I think that's only a small start. There is so much more to be done to address racism here and in the rest of the country.

I am thankful that seems to be widely understood now. There is much more to do, once we put the masks away.

Strangely, the pandemic, which upended our routines, crashed the economy and took so many lives, will have left, unlike most natural disasters, little physical damage behind.

I guess we might be grateful for that, though restoring our psyches may be a much bigger challenge.

I am grateful it is almost over, and that our science, the development of vaccines, will triumph.

There are challenging weeks ahead, a reminder that it is indeed often darkest before the dawn. But even as the moon sets on our pandemic year, I am thankful to know that the sun will also soon rise.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


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