112121 human condition (toned)

Social Distancing. Masking. Hand washing. Vaccinations.

Most of us have been immersed in these COVID-19 protocols since March of 2020.

For too many, illness and death have marked the past 19 months. Everyone struggling with COVID-19 continues to be in our every prayer.

But this Thanksgiving gives us a precious opportunity to somehow conquer these pandemic challenges, if only metaphorically.

If you can't gather with your loved ones, here's my personal "prescription" for overcoming these seemingly unending hurdles:

1. Write a letter by hand. Yes, you will have to find stationery and an envelope! I'm showing my age here, having recently turned 79, because I favor the old-fashioned handwritten note for very special occasions. This Thanksgiving is the perfect time to take pen in hand and write that long lost friend or family member with whom you’ve all lost touch. Not email! Not text! This note need not be lengthy. Just pen a few words describing how often you remember your friend or relative and your love for him or her and how much you miss them.

2. Make that phone call. I know making a real phone call is so 1980 or 1990! But there is just something about hearing the voice of a friend or relative with whom we have not been in touch for a long time. For many of us, it's been more than 18 months without being able to exchange a hug with those we cherish so very much. So call them and let them know just that.

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3. Personally thank those who help and care for us. Have you heard the sanitation truck arriving at your home early in the mornings? I do my best to listen for the clanging of these most-needed vehicles so that I can hurry out in my robe to shout a thank you to the workers and hand them a small token of my appreciation. If I am able, I often remind them that Dr. Martin Luther King’s horrible assassination occurred when he was in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting the garbage workers’ strike. If you try this simple task, you’d be overwhelmed with the immense gratitude coming your way!

4. Reach out to your barista or waitperson. Try to let her or him know of your gratitude for all the gracious service provided to you and others day after day. Think about penciling a little note on the check expressing your personal thanks!

Yes, these might seem like such small, tiny expressions of personal appreciation, but in these most challenging months, simple acts like these can mean the world to the recipient. They can let others know how very much we appreciate them for their caring and their friendships, no matter how long we might have been apart.

At the end of his life, the late beloved Nat King Cole reportedly said: "As my life’s end approaches, I have come to believe that all the things that I believed were the ‘big things’ were really very small, and the ‘small’ things were really so very large."

I believe each time we offer these personal expressions of our gratitude, we conquer the distance and draw ever closer to one another.

Happy Thanksgiving!

— Weinstein lives in Baton Rouge


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