November 26, 2020
This newspaper is dated, Thursday, November 26, 2020 but I suspect many readers of this column will not do so until after the Thanksgiving holiday. However, because the health departments are discouraging family gatherings this Thanksgiving, I suspect the number of people who chose to read the electronic version of this column on Thanksgiving Day will set a record.
All paid subscribers have, at no additional cost, the option of receiving the paper both via the internet and in a printed form. Some elect to take one or the other but that is their choice.
As usual, most businesses closed for the Thanksgiving holiday but because of COVID-19 that is where normality stops this year.
Family gatherings and community meals are being discouraged. Nationally, airline bookings are about half of normal. Fewer people are travelling by automobile. Demand for turkeys, particularly the large ones often served at family gatherings, is much lower this year. When it came to stocking what their customers wanted for holiday meal preparation, grocery stores have been challenged. Past sales were not necessarily a good indicator of what would sell this year.
Some people are grumbling, unhappy and not wanting to admit observing the holiday as they always have is probably not the way it should be observed this year.
For me, Thanksgiving previously was a time to gather with family but not this year. For most of our married years, I have joined Rita and have gotten together with members of her family.
Sunday we took advantage of a pleasant afternoon and went to visit her parents who are now residents of a nursing home. We haven’t been allowed inside the nursing home since the virus arrived in March but we have been permitted with masks on to sit outside their room and visit with them through an open window.
That was a good plan through early fall, but with winter temperatures moving in, we needed a new plan.
This week we used painter’s tape and covered the window with a clear shower curtain. We were pleased with how well we could see her parents through the shower curtain and how well they could hear us when we used a personal amplifier to boost our voice.
We didn’t care if other people in the parking lot heard our conversation.
Rita’s mother is still an avid reader but reading has become hard for her father who next month expects to observe his 98th birthday.
Consequently we often take along a story to read to him. This week we chose the introduction to the book entitled, The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan.
In the portion I read, the author makes reference to places like Inavale, Neb., and Baca County, Colo. For me the reference to Inavale promoted some side stories and my father-in-law identified with Baca County for members of his family homesteaded there.
While COVID-19 has made for unpleasant times, life was more difficult during the Great Amercian Dust Bowl which accompanied the Great Depression which rocked the entire nation. The Depression and Dust Bowl were followed by World War II. Those days were rough for millions of people.
We think the weather is crazy this year but it isn’t any crazier than it was in 1935. A Sunday in mid-April of 1935 is known as “Black Sunday.” The day dawned quiet, windless and bright. In the afternoon the sky turned purple and the temperature plunged. My father was attending a youth fellowship meeting at the Superior Methodist church. He didn’t try to drive home but instead made his way two blocks south to stay the night with a friend. He told of people trying to drive home with a guide walking along giving directions for the visibility was so poor. One driver who lived at the southern edge of Superior and tried to drive home sucked so much dust into his car the engine was ruined.
Less than two months later, the worst flood in the recorded history of the Republican River swept down the valley claiming lives and destroying property. But the wet weather didn’t last. Before the summer was over, my father was able to cross the river without getting his shoes wet. While the river was not completely dry, he was able to jump across the small rivulets of water.
Monday a customer now living in Florida called this newspaper pleading for help.
Now nearly 80 years old, Karen was raised on a dairy farm in Upstate New York. She helped her parents milk cows and put up hay. She showed cattle at the New York State Fair and even won the first place medal in a state fair dance competition.
In her adult life, she has travelled with a carnival. Previously we have visited about her fun memories of the carnival playing at the Nebraska State Fair. And we have talked about her current sad times. A nephew contracted COVID-19 and died a few days before his planned wedding date.
And now Karen is in trouble. She needs a place to live. Because of COVID, her normal residence choices are either not open or have a long waiting list. She has been paying $600 a month to pitch her tent in a campground but tent life is difficult.
Can you imagine living in a tent during a hurricane? I can’t. Karen tried and doesn’t recommend it. Now she is finding biting ants to be even worse. Not knowing where to turn, she was in tears when she called Monday, The ants were winning the war. She knows she must find other accomodations but where?
After listening to her story on Monday and on Sunday reading about what my parents and grandparents went through in 1935, I am thankful for all I have today.
Thanksgiving 2020 isn’t nearly as bad as I first thought it was.
This year we need to be thankful for all that we have, follow the health department suggestions to slow the spread of COVID-19 and be patient. There is light at the end of tunnel and it doesn’t appear to be a freight train. When it comes to treating COVID-19, scientists appear to be making rapid progress. Tuesday’s papers published reports of a promising vaccine that will be less costly to manufacture, easier to store and administer than what was on last week’s horizon.