Events of 2020 cast pall over Thanksgiving

Published 3:41 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2020

It would be so easy to write a warm and fuzzy column about Thanksgiving. It is, indeed, among my favorite celebrations, a truly American religious holiday set aside for people of all faiths to give thanks, each in our own way, for the multiple blessings we enjoy.

But this Thanksgiving will be like none we can recall — much like this entire year, I’m afraid — and it’s difficult to feel good about the idea.

We can and should be thankful, of course. Those of us who have managed by some twist of fate — and perhaps a bit of caution — to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus should indeed be thankful, and if our extended family is healthy, then praise be for that.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Yet, it seems selfish, if not a bit arrogant, to celebrate good health when so many among our neighbors don’t enjoy it. Across the country, the virus is surging. A quarter-million Americans have now died. Governors who, a month ago, were laughing at those who wore masks are now urging their citizens to not only don masks but stay home in order to avoid spreading the deadly bug.

Hospitals are overflowing in much of the country with seriously ill COVID patients. Health care workers are standing in as surrogate family members alongside people who are dying from the stuff.

There is, of course, a vaccine on the way — at least two of them, it seems. And both promise to offer 90%-plus efficacy. That is certainly cause for giving thanks. But meanwhile we are required to be patient, not to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas too broadly, to continue staying at home to the extent possible and yes, to wear a mask for perhaps the better part of another year.

In normal times, this would also be a day of reflection and thanksgiving for our system of government. We have just elected a new president and whether we voted for or against him, the oldest free election system in the world has proven its resilience once again. Or has it?

Perhaps if we had a “normal” president currently in office it would. Instead, we are being blasted with false daily rants about a crooked election, despite the assurances of election officials in all 50 states and even our president’s own Homeland Security cybersecurity head that this was one the fairest, and smoothest, elections ever held. (He was fired last week for saying that.)

Instead of a peaceful transfer of power from one president to another, we have a president-elect barred from accessing national security information and even the COVID information he and his staff must have to begin governing the third week in January.

And thus, the stage is set for further turmoil, and there will indeed be turmoil in the coming two months, if not the next four years, as the legitimacy of our system is continually challenged rather than reinforced by men and women who know better.

In this environment, our nation is something still to be thankful for this week, but it is also something to be prayed fervently for. America needs our prayers, and she needs our support, now perhaps more than ever.



The Nov. 18 Short Rows contained a mistake. It reported, near the end, that Isle of Wight voters supported Henry Howell over Chuck Robb in 1977. It should have said voters supported Howell AND Robb, who were running for governor and lieutenant governor that year. John Dalton won the gubernatorial election that year. Robb won the lieutenant governor’s post.


John Edwards is publisher emeritus of The Smithfield Times. His email address is