From the Pastor: Thanksgiving? For What?
This week we have a national holiday that has me wondering, "What, exactly, are we to be thankful for this year?" For our health? No, for we are told every time we are forced to put on a face diaper or stand on the little blue “6 feet for your safety!” dot or refrain from shaking hands that we are ill; that we harbor a deadly, wildly contagious disease. We cannot visit grandma because we will willfully, purposefully, perhaps even gleefully, carry our contagion to her in order to make her die a terrifying death (after locking her up in a hospital prison cell with no visitors allowed, neither family nor friends nor priest). No, we are so unhealthy that we are constantly bombarded with dire warnings of “skyrocketing cases!!!” of people who may not even have imagined that they were deathly ill but were forced to take the covid test so that they could fly or go to a ball game or attend school or some such used-to-be-ordinary event and, lo and behold, turn up positive for something that may or may not be a current covid infection or past coronavirus infection or nothing at all. Mandatory reporting of such ill people to the health authorities, 10-14 days of quarantine, and contact tracing does not show much of an indication of good health, even if the grandma-killer has no illness of any sort. In fact, that sort of person is put forth as the most fearful kind of unhealthy person of all, since those who are showing signs of covid sickness are never highlighted in what used to pass for the news as the “superspreaders”. That’s right, anyone who has symptoms of illness is certainly a killer but those who are healthy are the most unhealthy of all. Plus, even after beating all odds and somehow surviving the unsurvivable covid monster, those who are scientifically shown to be immune must still wear the mask, refrain from physical contact with any other human person, and never, never visit grandma in the nursing home. After all, two people out of the millions and millions of those who, to the experts’ consternation, somehow survived covid have been reinfected so immunity cannot be real. So no giving thanks for health, for the sick ones are not healthy and the healthy ones are even less healthy.
How about giving thanks for family? After all, the days around Thanksgiving are always the most traveled days of the year, as people go home to enjoy the great festival with their families. But, alas, this year we are told that we should not go to anyone’s house nor to have anyone over to our house for fear of killing them. Or them killing us. Or all of us killing each other. Family members cannot come if they have the sniffles, of course, since even suffering from allergies proves them to be grandma killers. But they most certainly cannot come if they are well, for that somehow offers even more proof that they are going to infect everyone.
So maybe we can be thankful for all the food that we will have? Especially since we cannot share it with anyone, we will have plenty of leftovers this year, which, in “normal” years, would be something worth celebrating. But this is not a normal year. The food came from the grocery store, where, judging from the fact that everyone wears masks, everyone must be ill from covid. Shoppers and workers were all mutually infecting each other, killing each other’s grandmas. Plus, covid attacks plump people more than skinny people, so eating more of the Thanksgiving meal will make people more prone to dying from the disease that they spread while purchasing it in the first place. Nothing to be thankful for in any of that.
But at least we can give thanks for the money we saved by staying home instead of traveling or the money we saved by not entertaining those who didn’t travel to see us, right? Not so fast. Our economy has yet to recover from the “two-week” lockdowns and continuing restrictions and fear, so for far too many people there is a net loss of income rather than any kind of savings. The social isolation during this holiday just makes the financial desolation that much more unbearable. A sarcastic, “Thanks a lot” is not a true thanksgiving.
At least we can go to church on Thanksgiving, to give thanks to God for --so far-- not getting arrested for breathing. But wait! The same “news” outlets screaming that the asymptomatic cases are setting records insist that bars, restaurants, and churches are the main places that covid is spread, so those three big baddies must be cut out of our holiday this year along with cutting out family, friends, and travel. Just to drive home the evil of ignoring the covid experts’ suggestions/demands, imagine a horror movie where the main characters combine these major grandma killing activities by 1) gathering with family and friends (maybe even *gasp* traveling to be with them!) and either enjoying food and drinks at a parish potluck after Mass; or 2) by praying grace and giving a toast at a restaurant. Either awful scenario is enough to send shivers down the spine of any caring person.
Well, I guess that leaves only one thing left to give thanks for: that our nation united together to hold an honest, fair and square, unquestioningly above board, and verifiably on the level election in order to choose the brightest, most competent, and most morally upright people to run our local and national governments.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka