Throughout the past year, we have experienced a barrage of unlikely and historic happenings and coincidences. The worst pandemic in over a century and the largest social movement for societal change in 50 years have been the marquee, ongoing events that
Throughout the past year, we have experienced a barrage of unlikely and historic happenings and coincidences.
The worst pandemic in over a century and the largest social movement for societal change in 50 years have been the marquee, ongoing events that have underscored a year that has been, for lack of a better phrase, just plain weird.
There was a full moon on Halloween for the first time in over 75 years. Apocalyptic fires have been raging across the Pacific Northwest – burying news that they almost got invaded by aptly-named “murder hornets” earlier this spring. Fans of “X Files” are probably also still reeling from the fact that the Pentagon released two authenticated videos of unexplained flying objects defying known physics, flatly said they did not know what they were – and nobody really cared.
More recently, Rhode Island experienced a rare earthquake that was strong enough to be felt across the middle of the state. And of course, we shouldn’t forget to mention that a sitting U.S. president was impeached and promptly acquitted along a party line vote, only to lose office in an election that drew historic turnout despite the fact that many millions of people didn’t physically go to a polling location.
So maybe it’s appropriate that this week we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving – when Pilgrim settlers who established Plymouth Colony broke bread with the Wampanoag tribe – in the midst of a global pandemic that has now led state leaders, including our own Governor Raimondo, to beg families to not actually gather together and celebrate it.
There’s a certain irony that the quadrennial celebration of a holiday that has such problematic, polarizing roots (depending on whether you’re a descendant of European settlers or any of the Native tribes who were decimated by their arrival) should be upended by a dangerous, highly contagious disease.
Native Americans do not celebrate Thanksgiving as a day of happy indulgence. Rather, thousands normally gather for a day of mourning to recognize the horrible truth of what that first Thanksgiving led to for their people – massacre through war, near annihilation through pestilence and sale into bondage for their people. Perhaps this Thanksgiving can be a moment of reflection for the millions of us who do not think much beyond the superficial celebratory atmosphere of the day.
This year, although health recommendations strongly caution against it, we are sure that there will be many who ignore the warnings and carry on as though everything were normal. Large gatherings of multiple households will certainly carry on – consequences be damned.
We can hardly blame anybody for wanting to surround themselves with loved ones as the holiday season kicks off. This has certainly been a year with drastic few moments to be thankful for. Unfortunately, the one thing that we most take for granted being thankful for – good health – will be the victim through failure to heed the warnings of healthcare officials around the world.
And despite the gloominess of the previous paragraphs, we have found reasons to be thankful as well. We are thankful that the democratic process endured this health crisis to enable the largest voter turnout ever seen. We are thankful to our readers for continuing to support our mission to provide quality local journalism that matters to you. We are thankful to live in a state where health precautions are taken seriously and abided by a majority of our citizens. We are thankful to the frontline workers and public servants who have spent countless hours trying to keep people alive, keep people safe and keep the world functioning despite all odds.
We wish you a happy, safe, reflective and healthy Thanksgiving. Hopefully at this time next year, we will be able to say that we are thankful that this dark, weird chapter in history has finally come to an end.