Thank-ful or Thank-less?
“Choose Your Thanksgiving”
Our 2020 Vision
Words: “Coach” Gary Micheloni
As I write, it is early October in this often-horrible year. The promises, hopes, and dreams of New Year’s Eve 2019, for 2020 have underperformed, to say the least. You’d think that, with the cool name of “2020”, we had something special coming our way. Different? Yes. Special? NO way!
I’ve written a lot of ‘Thanksgiving’ articles and stories over the years, but this one feels a little bit like a guy being asked to ‘say a few words’ at the funeral of a person (let’s call him Igor) that nobody seemed to know or like. Got the picture? You jot down a few notes, show up, and wait for your turn…not knowing what to say. But then four different guys, in turn, stand up before you and share some things about the dearly departed Igor, really nice things. Who knew? What to do? Yikes!
So, this year has truly been something to behold. Me? I’m kind of glad to see it leave. You? But what can we say about it at our memorial service for the Igor of 2020? While it surprised me to no end…I did find several “compliments” that I can use for Igor’s imaginary service. Some of them are weird, so work with me on these, okay? You put together your list as we look at mine.
In general, it was a year where it seemed as if every hour there was BREAKING NEWS thrust before us. Breathless newscasters with their hair-on-fire always had some MUST SEE/MUST HEAR/MUST KNOW, hugely important tidbit for us to consume, ponder and worry until we stressed. You know what I’m talking about, right? At first blush, this doesn’t seem to be a nice compliment from me—but think about this. How much of that same breaking news stuff is even relevant anymore?
Here’s the answer: almost none of it. What does that mean team? In the end, we’ll get through it. Going forward, work on things you can change. Don’t stress over those you can’t. So, let’s look at a few of them. I put these out in no particular order—except how they came to mind.
COVID-19. Compare it to the 1918 flu pandemic, the biggest one ever in the U.S. That estimated death toll was approximately 50 million worldwide and about 675,000 in the U.S., and that was with a population of only 103 million. Approx. six-tenths of one percent died. We got through it. The mortality rate of Covid-19 is only a fraction of that, maybe seven-hundredths of 1%. And we’ll get through this one, as well.
The Loss of Sports. Breaking news—this just in—some sports are back! They look a bit strange. I mean…cardboard cutouts of people in the bleachers? Oh, well. But, say what you will, pro and college football is back–sort of. Basketball playoffs—looks like they’ll end just in time to start the new season. Baseball, with its bizarre rules, is making possible “the boys of October”, after all, even in this year of miracles, which includes my San Diego Padres in the playoffs.
Hockey. It never left.
NASCAR. It figured out a way.
The Loss of Work. Many in the construction industry kept right on working, having been recognized as ‘essential’—which we are. We figured out a way to keep moving.
Impeachment Woes: Gone — at least for now.
Economy. Up, down, back up again. The U.S. roars back with arguably the strongest economy in the world.
Unemployment. At a record low, near-record high, and near-record low again.
Election Worries: At the time you read this, you’ll know (or just about know) the answer. Whatever happens, we’ll get through that mess, peacefully, as well. Just as we’ve always done, and just as we always will.
The Death of RBG: While I disagreed with the majority of her decisions, I truly admired her nearly-indomitable spirit and her ability to converse civilly with those opposing her views. At 5’’1”, she was truly a giant in D.C.
Confirmations in the Supreme Court: Rarely nice, often nasty, even these uprisings shall pass.
Peace in the Middle East: Dare we hope? Doesn’t seem probable, based upon history, but I’m rooting for it because it might just be possible. Let’s don’t screw it up.
I’d like to add more items, if only to prove that, in the end, the hysteria once attached to them often just doesn’t matter. So I’ll ask you to just trust me on that. But I do want to close by talking about Thanksgiving because it should truly be a ‘thankful’ time for all of us. So, allow me to borrow from a previous illustration once used in this column. I’m asking you to choose between two hypothetical dinner invitations, based strictly upon photos of the two, separate, Thanksgiving events.
Picture #1 is in color, a modern 2020 home with one couple at the table, wearing masks. Somehow you are aware that they are ‘in lockdown’ mode. You know what that couple has been going through this year. Truthfully, you feel a bit sorry for them. Two empty seats at their table.
Picture #2 is a black & white photo of a home from a different time—it’s 1945. In the picture, you see a much larger group of people. No masks. Many are smiling. Looks like it might be fun. Two empty seats.
Home #1 and Home #2. Which doorbell will you ring? Before you answer, here’s a bit more info. Home #1 is pretty much like I’ve described. The couple has been living through the COVID-19 pandemic and all that is involved with it, from lockdowns to closing businesses, masks, sickness, and deaths.
Home #2 has escaped COVID. However, it has not escaped World War II. Neither has the U.S. or the rest of the world. About 85 million people worldwide died during that War. The U.S. only had about 140 million people back in 1945, and 11% of all citizens fought in it—some 16 million people, plus another 3.5 million in the defense industry. 671,278 military were wounded or injured, 407,316 were killed in action, and another 72,323 were listed as MIA.
Everyone in the country personally knew someone who was part of those statistics. The large, smiling family in our imaginary photo, based upon statistics, knew at least one person. “Gold Star Mom” was a real thing. (Google it if you don’t know—worth your time.) The smiles on that group are real. The people in it are grateful that the War is over. Truly thankful. In our example here, you have the opportunity of choosing your degree of thankfulness. Choose wisely. In this case, the good ole’ days of 1945 were much uglier than today, and the people of that era were more appreciative that they had come to an end, finally. The smart money is on choosing the much easier time of 2020, believe it or not!
I say all of that just to say this: as bad as this year has been, appreciate the blessings we have in this country, yet routinely take for granted. As the saying goes, “Freedom isn’t free.” Good people before our time—specifically in 1787, incorporated the following into our Constitution as its Preamble:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
I include this Preamble because some today would discount the nobility of the founding of our country. Indeed, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, under the distinct, possible and likely penalty of death, pledged “Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” The penalty was not simply being confined to their homes. The sacrifice was ultimate.
I am thankful that a brand new year is just around the corner. Even more so, I am full of thanks for the benefits of citizenship this amazing country has provided for my family and me—and you!
May God bless America. May America continue to bless God.
As for me and my house, the choice is clear.
Copyright 2020 Gary Micheloni
Coach Gary’s Corner: Gary Micheloni is a construction company marketer, speaker, author, consultant…and a coach. Get Coach Gary to speak for your group. FullContactTeam@gmail.com and be sure and tell him about how you are leading!