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hanksgiving 2020 finds many of us in a not-very-thankful mood.

That’s understandable, considering what we’ve lost to this year.

Easter gatherings. Graduation ceremonies and senior proms. Fourth of July firework celebrations. Trick-or-treating. A vast swath of youth sports. And now, the day of feasting that brings together generations to renew the ties that bind.

The list goes on. And it will continue to go on. Black Friday shopping outings, Christmas and New Year’s gatherings. Some have lost jobs.

And by the way, we also have lost more than 5,000 fellow North Carolinians and a quarter-million fellow Americans and counting.

Sadly, we’ll lose more. Health experts across the board are predicting several dark weeks ahead of us, as some people continue to ignore advice about masking and large indoor gatherings, which will fuel the alarming spike in COVID-19 cases we’re already seeing.

Look around and there’s gloomy news in abundance.

But also look around and you’ll see there is much to be thankful for. In particular, many people to be thankful for.

In times of crisis you see what people are made of. Consider that the pandemic has been likened to a war.

Consider how many people wade out into that war zone every day, not knowing if those they encounter are carrying the virus, not knowing if they’ll be placing themselves in danger but stepping up and doing the job anyway.

Peace officers. Emergency responders. Health workers and professionals. Teachers. Those who care for the elderly and disabled. Those who do their part to ease issues with hunger, housing and mental health in our community. Those who were well aware of the risks but stepped up to make sure we had a smooth election.

We see what these people are made of. And we are thankful beyond words their true colors are showing. In this crisis, they are the fabric holding society together.

We don’t know how this pandemic is going to end. We do know there are rays of light on the horizon, but that we’re going to have to cross a dark abyss to step into the full light of those hopes.

The first Pilgrims were literally celebrating sheer survival. In many ways Thanksgiving 2020 carries echoes of that sentiment.

This year, we’ll be renewing deep roots of kinship once again in these mountains, albeit in strange new ways. While we offer thanks for one another, let’s pause and offer thanks to those who have gotten us this far, and who will carry us through the coming dark.

Those who stepped up. And will continue to do so.