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A pandemic Thanksgiving

     No pandemonium at the Thanksgiving table this year. Everyone's somewhere else. Just three or four of us round the turkey. Next year. . .

     This will be a calm Thanksgiving and sad, too. But in the relative silence of the meal we'll be thinking of all those who can't be at our table this year, or at anyone's table. We'll miss the brother-in-law's silly jokes, silent fights over the dark meat—or worse! the stuffing!—the fussy baby tossing his mashed tater's to the floor. What we wouldn't give for a normal, riotous family Thanksgiving—all of us clustered around the table with a football game playing on TV.

     "Lord, give me the serenity to accept what I cannot change." Thanksgiving at home with part of the family will have to do. The turkey will taste good—if I can get my share of the dark meat. Shouldn't be a problem. They don't make turkeys small enough for three or four people, so there'll be lots to share and for sure, more leftovers for turkey sandwiches in the days to come.

     Instead of the usual spirited discussions about weather, politics, football, Christmas shopping, we'll be thinking of the many who are missing, lost to the virus, and be thankful we're here. We'll think of our moms and dads, brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and be glad they're well. You're right, they don't all come to Thanksgiving dinner with us every year, but still. . .

     Okay. Time for a distraction. Did you know that unless you were in Canada on the second Monday of October, or in Liberia on the first Thursday of November, you missed Thanksgiving. Not ours—theirs.

     Liberians celebrate their Thanksgiving in remembrance of gaining independence in 1847, after Americans helped it become a home for former American slaves. Only a few Liberians today are actually descendants of slaves, but Liberians celebrate with a pretty much traditional Thanksgiving that includes, of course, that green bean casserole we're so familiar with, along with chicken and mashed cassava—which from the description, sounds pretty much like our mashed potatoes or yams.

     Canadians celebrate the safe arrival on their shores of the crew led by British explorer Arthur Frobisher. The crew barely made it to shore alive back in 1578. So their Thanksgiving came first! Ours started in 1621. Canadians, like Americans, feast and laze around watching sports on that day.

     There's more. Grenada celebrates Thanksgiving on October 25th, commemorating the U.S.-led invasion in 1983 that restored political stability to their country and Japan celebrates its workers with Labor Thanksgiving Day on November 23rd. What started as a fall festival later became a thank you to Japanese workers. Maybe we should do that? Add thanks to the workers, especially the "frontline" workers in this pandemic. . .

     Germany's "Erntedank"—translation: Thanksgiving—on the first Sunday of October, also started as a harvest celebration, but has become more of a religious holiday. Other Thanksgivings around the world include a town in the Netherlands  and an Australian territory, Norfolk Island, but I think that's enough for now. I don't want your turkey to get cold.

     Except I have to tell you about the bananas. Norfolk Islanders celebrate with all kinds of banana dishes! Mashed bananas, banana pilaf, bananas baked into bread, green bananas in cream—as well as pork and chicken and regular stuff.

     Just wanted to share that we're not alone in giving thanks every year. Maybe we could give thanks for all the good people around the world and in our families and among our friends and relatives. And maybe we could keep doing it the day after Thanksgiving and the day after that and the day. . .

     So, in spite of—or because of—the pandemic, I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving now and throughout the year to come.

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