Today is a day set aside for gratitude, for giving thanks.
But 2020 is an odd combination of the same and strange.
Like usual, we are In Mammoth in the easter Sierra Nevada.
We woke to a fresh dusting of snow at our friend’s house in Mammoth Lakes near the village.
Because of COVID, we’re here alone, just my family of three, here in this huge house, and together on the slopes, and on the lifts.
Of course there’s other people here at Mammoth Mountain, but we’re spread out: “If you arrived together, ride together” the signs say. Lines are long and slow because lifts aren’t packed; strangers rarely ride together. Lifties wear bright orange jackets the save COVIC COMPLIANCE and other banners read “MASK AREA.” Tomorrow more of the mountain is slated to open. Privately, employees wonder how much longer they’ll be able to stay open, and who will be able to keep working as services are scaled back.
“It doesn’t feel like much of a Thanksgiving this year,” writes Heather Cox Richardson on Thanksgiving eve 2020 on Facebook (also sub stack). “Lots of chairs are empty, either permanently, as we are now counting our coronavirus dead in the hundreds of thousands, or temporarily, as we are staying away from our loved ones to keep the virus at bay.”
“Rather than being unprecedented, though, this year of hardship and political strife brings us closer to the first national Thanksgiving than any more normal year,” writes Heather Cox Richardson.
“That first Thanksgiving celebration was not in Plymouth, Massachusetts. While the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags did indeed share a harvest feast in fall 1621, and while early colonial leaders periodically declared days of thanksgiving when settlers were supposed to give their thanks for continued life and– with luck—prosperity, neither of these gave rise to our national celebration of Thanksgiving.”
“We celebrate Thanksgiving because of the Civil War.”
She continues and explains that history, then concludes:
“Lincoln established our national Thanksgiving to celebrate the survival of our democratic government.
Today, more than 150 years later, President-Elect Joe Biden addressed Americans, noting that we are in our own war, this one against the novel coronavirus, that has already taken the grim toll of at least 260,000 Americans. Like Lincoln before him, he urged us to persevere, promising that vaccines really do appear to be on their way by late December or early January. “There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on,” he said. “Don’t let yourself surrender to the fatigue…. [W]e can and we will beat this virus. America is not going to lose this war. You will get your lives back. Life is going to return to normal. That will happen. This will not last forever.”
“Think of what we’ve come through,” Biden said, “centuries of human enslavement; a cataclysmic Civil War; the exclusion of women from the ballot box; World Wars; Jim Crow; a long twilight struggle against Soviet tyranny that could have ended not with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but in nuclear Armageddon.” “It’s been in the most difficult of circumstances that the soul of our nation has been forged,” he said. “Faith, courage, sacrifice, service to country, service to each other, and gratitude even in the face of suffering, have long been part of what Thanksgiving means in America.”
“America has never been perfect,” Biden said. “But we’ve always tried to fulfill the aspiration of the Declaration of Independence: that all people are created equal….”
Biden could stand firmly on the Declaration of Independence because in 1861, Americans went to war to keep a cabal of slave owners from taking control of the government and turning it into an oligarchy. The fight against that rebellion seemed at first to be too much for the nation to survive. But Americans rallied and threw their hearts into the cause on the battlefields even as they continued to work on the home front for a government that promoted the common good. And they won.
Honoring our wins and our losses.
This year we aren’t cooking but getting take out from Toomey’s located in the village of Mammoth. It’s a traditional turkey feast (with pumpkin pie of course!) which we will enjoy with two California wines: a vintage sparkler from Schramsburg and a 2013 M2 old vine zinfandel from Lodi.