This Thanksgiving, the COVID crisis threatens and discourages all the material trappings that usually characterize the secularized holiday: big family get-togethers, sporting events and “Black Friday” shopping binges.
We are left with a more subdued atmosphere that is conducive to thinking about higher things. There is much to consider. It seems that so much that could have gone wrong this year has gone wrong—the virus, the civil unrest, the economy and the elections. All these things brought anxiety and few signs of hope. To the superficial mind, there would seem to be few reasons for gratitude in this crazy 2020 so different from years past.
However, we can be thankful for much more than we realize. If I were to give this Thanksgiving a special name, I would call it the Thanksgiving for those things we take for granted.
That is the beauty of hard times. We can reflect and rejoice over little. Each thing we take for granted now acquires an added importance and naturally increases our gratitude. We can thank God for the things usually forgotten but that are now treasured. We can thank Him for those things for which almost nobody thanks Him, as we see them differently now.
Thus, there are five things we take for granted that I thank God for this Thanksgiving.
Thanking God for His Providence
I thank God for His loving Providence toward me during this year of crisis. I survived the economic troubles without huge inconveniences. There were uncertainties that I had to confront, and He was there to help me. The lockdown deprived me of many little things, and He let me see how little they were.
Usually, I do not think much about these material goods since God has always provided for me. However, this year I see the disasters that could have happened. I saw problems that happened to others but not to me. I have great cause to be thankful even for those goods and opportunities that I did not receive. God gave me what I needed, and that alone is enough for gratitude.
Thanking God for Health
I thank God for preserving me in health in this coronavirus crisis. Like so many others, I usually take my health for granted. This year, I was forced to think about the very real possibility of death—my own. I saw how precarious life is, which made me more appreciative of my life and that of others.
This meditation on death is a grace from God for which we should give thanks. In thinking about death, we ponder life from a truer perspective. We reflect on our sinful lives. These opportunities provide us with time to improve our lives. When confronted by the proximity of death, we can think of ways to know, love and serve God better. In contemplating death, the Church encourages us to think of our final end and act accordingly.
This year, it became clearer to me how much we are in God’s hands. He gives us health and life. We are completely helpless in the face of death and must prepare ourselves, therefore, for that terrible and inevitable hour.
Thanking God for Spiritual Goods
I thank God for the spiritual goods of this tumultuous year. We take for granted church attendance, Holy Mass, the sacraments and parish life. The lockdowns brutally and abruptly deprived us of them all this year. Indeed, some American parishes still face draconian restrictions.
This year we experienced the spiritual desolation of all churches shutting down. Easter was at home. Some bishops even imposed more severe restrictions than the civil authorities did, which brought great affliction. People had no sacraments for months on end, even when dying.
Thus, those of us who now have the sacraments and liturgy can especially thank God for these great gifts. Having experienced their loss, we now appreciate them more.
Thanking God for Loved Ones
I thank God for giving us family, work colleagues and loved ones in whom we can confide in these trying and anti-social times. We take for granted our contacts with those around us. We are social beings and naturally rejoice in interacting with others. So many opportunities to meet with others were cruelly curtailed. So much civil unrest separated us from each other because cities and streets were unsafe.
This year our ability to interact was severely hampered by social distancing, masking and lockdowns that treated every single good American as a hazardous health threat to the community. Thus, many suffered from loneliness and isolation. It is a sad time when we are deprived of smiles, facial expressions and hugs of affection.
Thus, we must thank God for those close to us who console and protect us in these times. They are the few but precious people who help us overcome the trials of the present-day crisis and keep engaging in the unceasing Culture War. How much easier it is now to appreciate their direction, affection and support.
Thanking God for Trials and Crosses
I thank God for the trials and crosses He sent me that make this Thanksgiving different from others. I know these sufferings were for my good and unite me more to God and the Blessed Mother. This suffering has led me to think about the more important things in life. It has forced me to rearrange my priorities. It helps me to think more about Church and nation and less about myself.
Hopefully, this crisis might also help everyone call upon God more and pray for a nation that has grievously sinned. We have a long way to go before we return to order, but the prodigal’s conversion is the sure path home.
There will be none of the usual holiday din this Thanksgiving to attract our attention away from Heaven. Let us thank God for all the things we take for granted. We owe Him everything.
In the seeming dead-end situation afflicting both Church and America, let us confide unrestrictedly in Almighty God, asking for His urgent help. He will hear our prayers and aid us in the great fight for our future.