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Spend time in thanksgiving — even now

The warning on Tuesday was pretty blunt: If you leave your house, you do so at your own peril.

While not exactly the words of District Health Department No. 4 officials at a board meeting this week, the idea is the same.

According to them, the safest way to avoid contracting COVID-19 is too avoid people.

“We are going to have to suck it up for a few weeks,” said Medical Director Joshua Meyerson. “If you leave your house, you are putting yourself at risk.”

If you’re like me, it wasn’t the news you wanted to hear the week before Thanksgiving. Somehow, it takes the joy and anticipation out of “over the river, and through the wood, to grandfather’s house we go.”

Then again, there has been little joy to speak of in most of our lives since March, when coronavirus became a household name.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were equally as joyful this week with their own recommendations for holiday gatherings.

Among the highlights from the CDC recommendations were to avoid singing Christmas carols or be around people singing this year, since COVID-19 is easily spread through respiratory droplets like saliva.

If small groups do gather, try to meet outdoors (that will go over well Up North).

Wear masks and practice social distancing at all times.

CDC officials warn against:

∫ Shopping in crowded stores this time of year.

∫ Participating in or being a spectator at a crowded race.

∫ Attending crowded parades.

∫ Attending large indoor gatherings.

After reading all that and already feeling depressed about all that has been lost because of COVID-19 this year, I was ready to run up the white flag of surrender.

I know many of you can identify with that.

But we can’t.

We must remain strong in the face of these disruptions. We have to look for that silver lining in everything around us.

And thus, I started to remind myself of the many blessings in my life, the many things I really should be thankful for right now.

By changing the focus off of myself and my “poor, poor pitiful me” perspective to, instead, one of thanksgiving, it changed my whole outlook.

I still have my health, a roof over my head, heat in the winter, and a job that pays the bills. I am surrounded by people who love me for who I am — blemishes and all.

Yes, it has been tough this year. Yes, I am cautious, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash my hands at least once every hour.

I have learned that, in times like this, it helps immensely to have a strong spiritual connection, and I have tried to add to my own spiritual journey’s experiences and lessons of life.

None of this has been easy for me, and I doubt it has been any different for you, either.

But here we are this morning, sharing a moment together over coffee or tea.

I urge you to stop for just a minute and join me in thanksgiving, not for what we’ve lost or had to sacrifice this year, but instead, for all that we’ve learned from these past eight months. Let’s reflect on our blessings and the joys we still can realize with the dawn of every sunrise.

I’m thankful today for each of you. It is you who have helped give me hope when the days seem dark and dreary.

I hope I, in return, have been a source of hope and inspiration to you, as well.

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.

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