So Much to Be Thankful For … Especially With the Pandemic

So Much to Be Thankful For … Especially With the Pandemic

No doubt for many of us, the past year and a half have been extremely hard, challenging times. The year 2020 is not one we will look back on fondly but instead is a year we all want to forget. Just try to imagine having no graduation parties, no birthdays, weddings, or even the holiday celebrations! That is unthinkable, although we understand why it must be this way due to COVID-19. Some years, it is easy to feel grateful but this year with so much loss and pain during the pandemic, it is not easy. As we try just to get through these challenging times, let us not allow the pandemic to steal our joy as we celebrate the many things for which we are grateful.

November is one of my favorite months of the year, like many who look forward to Thanksgiving as a special time to spend with family and friends—a time of feasting with roast turkey or for Filipinos, with the preferred lechon and fried fish, pinakbet, and special dessert treats like bibingka, suman and halo halo.

November is also when we collectively honor all the men and women who have served in our armed forces, who have been willing too often, to pay the ultimate price to guarantee our freedom of choice. For many of us, Veteran’s Day is a day to reflect on the price of our freedom and to remember all who have made that ultimate sacrifice to keep America the “land of the free and home of the brave.”

Filipinos look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday with the hopeful anticipation of eating not only lechon, fried fish and pinakbet but also treats like bibingka, suman and halohalo. Collage: Lawrence Pascua

As we celebrate while feasting with families and friends, let us not allow the pandemic to steal our joy. Let us focus, instead, on the deep gratitude we feel for all blessings, big and small. Thanksgiving is fun and for many of us, a sacred time to appreciate our countless gifts of good fortune. Despite the difficulties of the last eighteen months, despite the stress and fears caused by illness, hospitalization and even death for some, and worse, even more dire circumstances for the many facing multiple challenges all at once, it is possible, or even desirable to acknowledge our blessings and celebrate Thanksgiving with profound gratitude.

So, what does being grateful during a pandemic look like? Here are some at the top of my list:
• First and foremost, I am grateful for the freedom to worship our God without fear of persecution.
• Second, I am thankful for family and friends. Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to catch up with family that we have not seen all year due to the pandemic.
• Third, I am thankful for our frontline healthcare heroes for putting their lives on the line to take care of patients during this pandemic. They have endured enormous pressures fighting the virus and we owe them our deepest gratitude for their skills and compassion.
• Fourth, I am thankful for researchers and scientists who developed effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines that bring protection against this deadly disease.
• Fifth, I am thankful for Veteran’s Day, for all it means to each of us.
• Sixth, I am thankful for a roof over our heads; having decent shelter is something to be grateful for, especially when we know so many individuals and families face housing insecurity.
• Seventh, I am thankful for good health. There may be some aches in parts of our bodies and still we are grateful to wake up every morning, able to breathe fresh air and enjoy the beauty of God’s amazing creation.
• Eighth, I am thankful for good laughter as it reduces stress and is a great social lubricator we should be grateful for and cultivate as much as possible AND it is free indeed.
• Finally, I am grateful we live on Maui where Aloha is practiced and nurtured by residents and visitors alike.

Yes, I am sure there is much, much more that we are thankful for, as we are mindful that God is the ultimate provider for all we need, while also bringing us great joy. The Bible can be our guidepost on gratitude for all we have, as stated in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which states “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” May this year’s Thanksgiving richly bless you and your loved ones with joy and happiness!

Enjoy the turkey and pecan pie … or lechon and bibingka … or better still … a feast with all the above and more!