No doubt it has been a difficult year, as we unwittingly entered into a pandemic of proportions never imagined when we greeted 2020 as a bright new year, full of promise. Now, businesses and schools have been are shuttered, jobs have been eliminated and, most tragically, loved ones have died.
Still there is hope, and reasons to be grateful on a Thanksgiving Day when autumn leaves are particularly colorful and weather is so mild we can pull on a jacket and walk on the beach in November.
“I am grateful for what I am and have,” transcendental writer Henry David Thoreau wrote. “My thanksgiving is perpetual.”
The late newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck, added a little humor with the words, “Worry is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”
With humility, I wouldn’t compare myself to Erma Bombeck, who I greatly admired, and with whom I exchanged letters several times at the height of her popularity. Instead, I’ll take her advice and try not to worry, although it’s in my nature.
I’m grateful for an energy level that defies explanation — except that I take a big B-complex vitamin pill every morning — a career in the newspaper business that still draws and intrigues me after 40 years and a springtime foot injury that seems to be healing, finally, so I can join my dogs for hour-long walks. And, of course, pie. Pumpkin. Two slices.
I heard a pastor once, during prayer, thank God for “letting us wake up this morning in our right minds, with the blood running warm through our veins.” I never forgot that. He made an excellent point.
One of my favorite quotes about being grateful is, “Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, to work, to play and to look up at the stars,” written by American author Henry Van Dyke.
“In the most difficult times such as we have gone through, we have to remember that God provides a way and God encourages us as his partners,” the Rev. Terence Dougherty, pastor of Ocean View Presbyterian Church, told me this week.
“It’s been very stressful, but people are putting themselves out there, and sharing and helping others. Doctors and nurses are risking their lives to help others, and they are fulfilling the role of chaplains and ministers in the hospitals right now, too, because nobody else can go in. We have to pray for them.
“I am grateful for the good people of my congregation and, of course, other congregations, for putting the health and well-being of others foremost in their minds and ahead of their plans, like they did with our new Sharing Pantry. What we should be most thankful for is the caring and sharing of people,” Dougherty said.
The Rev. John Klevence, pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church in Bethany Beach, said that, ultimately, there is a blessing in everything worrisome, even a pandemic.
“Everything works to the good somehow. God’s will eventually wins out. Christ the light is always there in good times and bad times, even though we may be surrounded by darkness. We find how important people are in our lives, and maybe we took them for granted. Maybe there will be some reconciliations. Life is too short to hold a grudge. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Is it worth having this grudge, or maybe I should just call this person and say hello.’ I think there will be blessings that will come out of it, as there usually are,” he said.
“It is a very difficult time,” Klevence acknowledged. “Even if we haven’t gotten the coronavirus, we may have known somebody who had it, or we lost them or have been worried about them. I think several months after this is all over, we will realize how much this did affect us. A lot of people have suffered and taken a kick in the stomach with all this and the way it changed our lives and our routines and separated us from our family and friends.
“But we have to be mindful for the blessings we do have and thank God we have family and friends,” he said. “Even though we aren’t seeing them as much, people are making do with Zoom chats and phone calls. In times like this, we have to look at some of the things maybe we would normally overlook, like the old saying of stopping to smell the roses. We can go outside and we can look up to the beautiful blue sky. We can get so caught up in what we don’t have, we fail to remember the things we do have,” Klevence said.
Ocean View artist Damon Pla said that, along with the love and health of his family, he is grateful “to hear laughter from the next room … and the smallest, most insignificant moments that I spend with my wife and kids. It allows me to reflect each day on how much I have respect for life itself.
“I am grateful to be able to have opened a local gallery and continue to sell paintings to my clients. Truly living a dream,” a thoughtful Pla said.
Local businessman Al Casapulla, who owns Al Casapulla’s Subs & Steaks, said he is uplifted by the “many customers that continue to stand in line every day to buy my food and support my business.”
“They are there no matter what the weather is like. Every time I see them it amazes me and I feel so appreciative. Not only do they keep my business going, but they also keep my employees employed through these rough times. So my staff and I are very thankful,” he said.
Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway said his gratefulness is “first and most importantly for my family.”
“I am also thankful for the members of the Millsboro Police Department” and “our Millsboro community for their continued support. This pandemic has been difficult on everyone, and I am truly thankful for the support of our community,” Calloway said.
Ocean View Mayor John Reddington expressed gratitude for “a wonderful family, children and grandchildren, who are healthy, physically fit, happy, my kids gainfully employed, my grandkids that constantly made me smile when I see and think of their antics and a happy marriage of over 47 years.
“I’m thankful for living in America and being an American, and all that entails in personal freedoms and responsibilities. I’ve traveled and lived all over the world for my jobs but would never want to live anywhere else in the world. I’m thankful for a hard-working professional staff, police force and town council that make being the mayor easy.
“I’m thankful for the support of the citizens of Ocean View,” he added.
“I’m thankful for the sunrises each morning over the ocean. And I’m thankful for the best, unbiased local, newsworthy, no-cost weekly newspaper of the Coastal Point,” Reddington said.
I like that one.
For Ocean View Councilman Bruce White, “the companionship and support of loved ones” makes him give thanks, as well as “health and mobility to benefit from our wealth of natural resources and parks. For our sense of community and civic cooperation. For technology to stay connected and productive during the pandemic. And for reasons to expect 2021 to be so much better.”
Millsboro Mayor Michelle Truitt expressed thanksgiving for her family.
“Seeing them healthy, growing and thriving each day to become the strong, supportive individuals that are giving back to our community, it makes my heart smile.
“As mayor of Millsboro, I am very thankful for such a close-knit community that is continuing to grow despite the prolonged pandemic. Residents and businesses alike have willingly faced the challenges with unquestioned resilience, which ultimately gives me strength. We will overcome this together,” she said.
Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson said he is “blessed with an incredible family, as well as with a wonderful church family.”
“I am thankful that the town of Millsboro continues to grow and prosper in spite of COVID-19, with two sit-down restaurants, a hotel, many homes and more currently under construction. I, like so many, am very much looking forward to the upcoming Millsboro Christmas Parade, which will, no doubt, draw participants and spectators from throughout the central Delmarva area come Dec. 5,” Hudson said.
Sean O’Sullivan, who handles public relations for the Delaware Courts, said foremost on his list of what to be thankful for is “the health and safety of all my family and friends.”
“While I will not see them in person this year, we will be together in spirit (and possibly by video). And I am also thankful that it appears a vaccine is on the way so that next year, at Thanksgiving, we will be able to get together safely once again,” he said.
For Ocean View Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader, it is “wife, family, friends and co-workers who have all made it possible to survive 2020.”
And, finally, with staying healthy on our minds, this little Christian prayer, written by the Rev. Richard Bott of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, is a nice reminder as we secure masks over our faces:
“Creator God, as I prepare to go into the world, help me see the sacramental nature of wearing this cloth. Let it be a tangible and visible way of living love for my neighbors, as I love myself. Christ Jesus, since my lips will be covered, uncover my heart, that people would see my smile in the crinkles around my eyes. Since my voice will be muffled, help me to speak clearly, not only with my words, but with my actions. Holy Spirit, as the elastic touches my ears, remind me to listen carefully and caringly to all those I meet.”