What is there to give thanks for this year as we’re dodging sledgehammer shots from a rampaging pandemic, sulfurous partisanship, smoldering racism, vanishing jobs, a loss of lives and lifestyles?
I don’t know. It’s easier to ask the question than to answer it.
There have been plenty of cavernous lows this year but few, if any, evocative highs. Not many faces have been breaking into sunlight. But you can see the tracks of tears on many faces.
With most of us sequestered from society, scanning for anything remotely resembling a turbo-charged bolt of excitement is a fool’s errand. When you tromp on the accelerator of good times, all the engine does is cough.
Indeed, it’s lonely enough to seek some studio time with Dr. Phil. Gone is that irrepressible, night-is-still-young gleam in our eyes expecting the vinegar to turn into champagne.
Nothing seems to fall into place with almost a cosmic elegance anymore. Nobody cues a rainbow or the violins anymore. Hopes are being thrown away like a craps shooter on a bad roll.
Not to sound excessively maudlin, but the hawk seems to be circling, the noose appears to be dropping.
It’s time for a cigarette and a blindfold. Alas, I quit smoking years ago.
Which brings us to Thanksgiving in a thankless world.
In the past, Thanksgiving was a time for family, food and football.
But Thanksgiving 2020 is a different breed. If you spend the holiday with your extended family, they could unwittingly expose you to COVID. The turkey, the trimmings and the pumpkin pie had better be delicious enough to die for.
Granted, eating outdoors is an option. Not necessarily a good one when you live in Berks County and not Hawaii. But if you’re wearing mittens to fend off the cold, you won’t burn your fingers passing a bowl of gravy so huge it comes with a pool liner.
Granted, my wife and I could choose to eat Thanksgiving dinner by ourselves. Big deal. We do that every night. We haven’t dined in a restaurant since March. Just us was great during our honeymoon. But that was 47 years ago. The magic wears as thin as gauze.
So we’re planning on having Thanksgiving dinner indoors with our two sons and daughters-in-law and five grandchildren, trusting that the Great Pilgrim in the Sky smiles benignly over us as we wrestle over the drumsticks.
We’ve been prudent about the coronavirus. But you can’t cower 366 days a year (remember, this is a leap year).
Mike Zielinski, a resident of Berks County, is a columnist, novelist, playwright and screenwriter.