Reflections on what to be thankful for amid the pandemic

FAN Editor

With the coronavirus pandemic raging, schools closed, and our democracy in limbo, a holiday about gratitude may feel a little off.

“What can we possibly be thankful for in 2020?” When I posed that question to my kids, I got crickets.

“Instead of saying what we’re thankful for, we could say what was hard for us,” Meryl said.

We definitely could. But before giving up on Thanksgiving completely, I had a hunch that hope for this holiday might lie at People’s Place – a thrift store and food pantry in Kingston, New York. Like most food pantries in America, they’ve seen a huge increase in need.

“Right now I’m definitely struggling,” one man said.

“I lost my job,” a woman told us.

“It’s been rough for everybody, you know,” another said.

People's Place
People line up outside People’s Place in Kingston, New York. CBS News

And yet, if you ask folks here if they have anything to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, you’ll get a surprising wealth of words.

“I’m grateful to be alive, and breathing on your own is the best,” one woman told us.

“My arms work. My legs work. I can walk,” another woman said.

“I’m not living out on the streets. I have a roof over my head,” another woman said. 

“I’m grateful that we still have what we have,” another said.

“I’m grateful for still being alive,” said a man named Gabriel. He, like the angel, wouldn’t provide a last name – just a revelation.

“Pay close attention to what this guy has to say and how he’s going to spend his Thanksgiving,” I told my kids.

“I’m going to have an amazing Thanksgiving all by myself,” Gabriel said. “I will sit on a park bench, and I will think about the great Thanksgivings that I’ve had in my life and be thankful for them. One bad Thanksgiving out of 63 amazing Thanksgivings – that’s pretty good odds. Maybe we should be a little more thankful for what we do have than constantly be complaining about what we don’t have.”

“What do you think?” I asked the kids.

“I think he’s right,” Meryl responded.

“I think he’s really right,” Emmett added.

Some people have lost so much. Yet so many I spoke to were grateful – as if thankfulness was sustenance.

“If these people just found something to be thankful for, I mean, seems like there’s no way not to,” Emmett said.

Revelation received.


To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.

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