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StephenVance 2702020 has been a year like no other we have experienced. The COVID-19 pandemic that has consumed our daily lives has been unsettling and uncertain, and the events of this year have seen a global heath issue paralyze nations and destroy economies. Happy Thanksgiving.

Given the realities that this year has brought us it might be easy to forget that in spite of it all, we actually have much for which to be thankful.

First and foremost, with just 13 of our residents having tested positive for the virus thus far, and with no deaths having resulted from those 13 infections, I think we can count ourselves lucky that we haven't seen some of the horrors that have been experienced in larger, more populated areas. That said, any optimism we have needs to be reined in somewhat as the long-predicted second wave of this virus is clearly upon us, and we could very well see our numbers spike. But thus far into this global pandemic, I am thankful that our exposure to this potentially lethal virus has been limited.

In watching the virus sweep around the globe, I have also found myself thankful that here in Canada, if we do contract the virus, we have a robust universal healthcare system that ensures that we all have access to treatment in spite of our station in life. I have always valued our healthcare system, but never more so than during this pandemic. There is some comfort in knowing that healthcare is easily accessible to all of us as it is one less thing to worry about in a year of chaos and uncertainty.

As we have taken in world news throughout the year we have seen some nations turn the virus into a political football, and I am thankful that here in Canada our political leaders of all stripes have largely avoided politicizing this pandemic. The public health and economic impact of the virus are more than enough to deal with – we don't need to politicize a global health crisis.

Some are understandably frustrated that we are being asked not to gather with extended family and friends for this year's Thanksgiving celebrations; instead we are asked to limit our gatherings to those within our own households. As frustrating as it might be to be unable to break bread with Aunt Tracy or Grandpa Joe as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, it seems a small sacrifice if it protects those we love and cherish from contracting a potentially lethal virus. Personally, I am thankful that the vast majority of us have followed the guidance of upper levels of government and our local health unit throughout this pandemic, and I will be thankful for all those who actually do limit their gatherings this Thanksgiving weekend in an effort to flatten this second wave curve.

The virus aside, this year has also brought with it natural disasters like earthquakes, wildfires, and hurricanes. I'm thankful that we live in a relatively safe region where those sorts of natural disasters are uncommon, and typically our worst natural worries are major snow events or the occasional tornado scare. I simply can't imagine piling a natural disaster on top of a global pandemic, and my heart goes out to all for whom that has been a reality this year.

Over the course of this pandemic I have written a time or two that perhaps one of the biggest frustrations with 2020 and this global pandemic has been the uncertainty. On any given day we have no idea what news we will wake up to, and we have no idea of the twists and turns this global pandemic will take. That reality increases our anxiety levels, and has many of us on edge. We have all witnessed short tempers and expressions of anger throughout these months of the pandemic, and thankfully most of us have managed to keep our cool, but I don't fault many of those who do express frustration – these are trying times and none of us have received any training in how to endure a global pandemic and economic crisis. Collectively we have been getting through this ordeal, and together is the only way we can really find our way to the other side of this wretched year.

This Thanksgiving weekend certainly won't be the Thanksgiving that many of us want, but I think it is fair to say that it will be the Thanksgiving we need if we are to flatten this second curve, and ultimately, with any luck, put this year of the virus behind us.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Be safe, maintain distance from others, wear your masks, and limit your gatherings this weekend. It's our only real ticket back to any sense of normalcy.


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