Despite everything, there is still much to be thankful for

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

In these wildly challenging times, it is easy to forget all that we still have to be thankful for this holiday.

I know we’re all tired of the pandemic — it has been a long nearly two years, frustrating and for too many fraught with so much beyond our control. We’re either angered or detached from the current climate of political division. And yes, a lot of us seem to understand on some basic level that things are going wrong and have been for some time and feel it is beyond our control.

So, it’s not shocking that some folks might wonder what exactly we are supposed to be thankful for this year.

The surprising answer: if you look around there are many things that we can be thankful for.

Tomorrow, most of us will be gathering in person with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving, something many of us could not do in 2020. And despite the hype in the national media, turkeys are plentiful in local stores (our Butterball is parked in the fridge, ready for cooking Thursday). There are some spot shortages and a handful of things cost more money (and this is basically the case around the world, after 19 months of pandemic supply chain interruptions).

The food will be good, football will be on the TV and even the weather forecast is pretty favorable (good news for those of you attending or participating in local parades). The dinner conversation may be complicated at this point — but maybe pushing the talk toward the Eagles or Phillies will help keep the peace.

Right now, it might seem like things are broken, but so much of what we take for granted is what remains right.

While a handful of jerks get attention for acting out, the vast majority of people are still good and still kind. They volunteer in the community, whether it be youth sports coaching, the local food bank and so on are still way more plentiful than the “look at me” jerks. There are thousands of acts of quiet kindness performed every day for each act of stupid, self-absorbed acting out shown on social media.

We have good neighbors, good friends and of course, family, we treasure. Most of us have our needs — and then some — met. And while too many will be homeless and hungry this holiday, many in our community will work to meet that challenge and offer their time and money to help solve it. In general — and specifically here in Chester County — we have it pretty good, even if it is easy to forget sometimes if you spend time on social media or watching cable TV news.

I’m not discounting anyone’s particular issues — we all have them — but on the whole, we tend to forget how good we have things these days. We’re — on average — wealthier, healthier and have access to more knowledge than at any other time in the history of humanity.

I’m trying to suggest we live in perfect times, we don’t. Like every era, we have serious challenges to face.

If you take a step back — move back from the doomsayers and those whose business models depend upon making you angry or sad or both – we are living in times of amazing advancement and progress. Arguably, some of our negative feelings are coming from being exposed to uncomfortable truths for the first time — in part because that progress brings so much more information into our homes and daily lives.

I’m not saying these are easy times (as if those have ever really existed except in hazy, rose-colored memories), but this is an era with many good things happening, things we can all be proud to be thankful for.

So when we toast or pray this week over the things we are thankful for, let us not forget so many things that are better or on the way to getting better. And so many people doing so many things to help others every day. Don’t let the challenges of the time overshadow the very real progress we are making.

There is much to be thankful for if you take a deeper look.

With that, I wish you and yours happy and safe Thanksgiving. Enjoy the reunions with loved ones – and treasure the memories with those who you cannot connect with this holiday. 

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