The upside of a distanced Thanksgiving: no driving through snow and ice to get to my relatives or flying during the busiest time of the year. The downsides? Everything else. My streak of not seeking my daughter in person continues, not to mention not seeing the rest of my family since ... last Thanksgiving. The summer family trip didn't happen, so it has been zooms only. While I will enjoy the fruits of my own baking and cooking today, I will not be enjoying my sister's. And she does a great job every year as host and chef. I will miss playing poker with my herd of nieces and nephew. They learned poker from me when I sought to dodge the annual argument about Bush v. Gore, a loud and annoying discussion despite the fact that my parents and my sister's in-laws were on the same side. Yet, even in this pandemic, there is much to be thankful for.
First, within the immediate family, we are relatively healthy. Two nieces have gotten COVID with one having lasting effects long past her bout in March. Given the rates of infection and how much damage this thing can do, we are doing ok. And the family has been communicating more than ever, I think, with twice weekly zooms. One with the next gen and one without. My other sister got sick of the Trump and pandemic talk, so we now all bring various games to the zooms. Some are quite revealing, so I have learned much about my siblings and mother that I did not know before. Chuck Klosterman's Hypertheticals: 50 Questions for Insane Conversations was my contribution, and it has been pretty good. It often puts people into having to consider bizarre tradeoffs.
Second, I am so grateful to my friends from all stages of my life. I have been zooming with many of them over the year. The poker games (no stakes) with both the local crew and the IR crew have provided much solace. Speaking of solace, my cohort at UCSD lost one of our own in May, so the zoom wake we had did, indeed, provide a great deal of solace. I got out of the habit of zooming as much this fall because I had so many work-related teleconferences. But I am returning to the evening zooms with friends--it makes a big difference in getting through this.
Third, I am very thankful for my friends and colleagues in the academic business. We have been exchanging tips about teaching online, we have been organizing virtual workshops and conferences, and we have been busy making sure our community remains communal in this strange time.
Fourth, as someone who usually is quite critical of my own employer, I have to say I have been most impressed by and grateful for Carleton's handling of this crisis. They not only made quick decisions to go online in the fall so that we had all summer to prepare (and again an early decision to go online in the winter) but provided a heap of resources so that the teaching and learning folks could help us with our online stuff. Having the VP for Teaching as a co-teacher was lucky, as he not only had great ideas for our class but could call on those aforementioned staffers of his to fix whatever mistakes I made.
Fifth, I am thankful that my daughter majored in Film Production, as she became our editor of online materials. She had the time because she had been furloughed, and, yes, I did pay her. She is now un-furloughed, for which we are all grateful as well. I will have to muddle through next term without her help, but glad she is back assisting those who manage Hollywood's talent.
Sixth, despite twitter and facebook being conduits of evil, the people I have met and hang out with on these platforms have provided me with laughs, insights, and info. It makes it far easier to feel connected in this time.
Seventh, I am thankful that Biden won and that the vaccines are on the horizon. While Trump is going to cause much damage on this way out, with pardons and a potential strike on Iran, the US (and as a result the world) will have better leadership. Next year, I will give thanks for not thinking about the American president for days at a time. And it is likely that we will be able to spend Thanksgiving next year together.
It may not be quite normal, but 2021 promises to be better than 2020. While my education did not focus much on the 1920s, my understanding of the boozing and partying and theater-going in the aftermath of the Spanish Flu has given me hope that the post-pandemic era will be one of much fun and adventure. We will not forget those we lost and those who were harmed, but we will feel much relief. We will have earned our hangovers and all the rest.
So, yes, even in this dark year, I am most thankful. I hope y'all have as good as a Thanksgiving as you can even if you can't be with those you love. Be well and stay home!