I love Thanksgiving, taking that break from our routines with a reminder to appreciate the good in our lives.

Frankly, having a dedicated time focused on being thankful is in itself something we should be thankful for.

Most Thanksgiving weekends I share reflections on the blessings in my life. This usually is one of the easiest columns I write all year, as I typically have no problem filling this space with the abundance of good that surrounds me.

This year, though, I’m finding this difficult. Try as I might to focus on being thankful, my mind won’t veer from thoughts of COVID-19.

So I’ll say it, I’ll get it out of my system. This pandemic sucks. I mean it really sucks. It’s affecting far too many aspects of my life.

I hate not spending quality time with my family because I don’t want to harm them. I detest wearing a mask whenever I’m out and about. I hate not eating out in my favorite restaurants. I am beyond sick of my writing and publishing business being crippled because I can’t speak and sign books in person at shows, conferences and meetings. I hate my travels and life experiences being curtailed, in large part because these are the fuel for my writing.

There, that helped. I feel a bit better. Now I will get back to being thankful.

Even though I feel the raging pandemic makes it unsafe to spend Thanksgiving with them, I am so thankful that I still have Mom and Dad. Most of my friends have lost at least one and some both parents, so I realize how blessed I am to have both parents remain a part of my life.

Now that it’s too cold to visit for long chats outside I’m not going over to Mom and Dad’s in person. But I can be grateful we still have the telephone, and I have been making a point to call them more often.

When it comes to family I am indeed a fortunate man. I have my soulmate for my wife, and two sons and a grandson who have turned out to be fantastic young men. And I am blessed with wonderful friends in abundance.

Even though a busy schedule and weather sometimes conspire against completing the restoration, I appreciate our historic home. There are times I sit here and simply let the history of the old place sink in. I imagine what my surroundings would have looked like in 1840 or 1850, and think about the people who shared the same space but in a different time, and what those early residents would have been doing.

In light of our late national trials I am grateful that our democracy has survived. If you question what I mean by this, then you simply have not been paying attention.

I am very thankful for my career as a journalist and newspaper editor, and what it taught me about the world around us and the intensive training it offered me as a writer. My upbringing and genetics are a true gift when it comes to my writing, and a I treasure not only being creative but the opportunity to share my work with so many others through On My Mind and my books.

The feedback I receive from my writing means more to me than anyone can imagine. That I am blessed to be able to connect with others, and to make a positive impact on their lives, enriches my soul.

That more and more people seem to be taking this pandemic seriously and are wearing masks and practicing social distancing is something I appreciate. As much as we all detest masks, wearing them is the best protection we can offer ourselves at each other at this point – according to one study wearing masks decreases transmission of the virus by 50 percent.

So far myself and my immediate family have avoided COVID-19. That is indeed a blessing, and my heart bleeds for those who are not so fortunate, especially those who have lost multiple family members.

I am grateful for the vaccines now on the horizon, that can help bring an end to this endless transition.

And I truly am thankful that if we can just stick it out this terrible year of 2020 will pass, and life will eventually return to normal.

Don Allison is an author, historian and retired editor of The Bryan Times. He can be reached at www.fadedbanner.com.

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