Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Faithful Observations: Thanksgiving and Family

by BOB SHILLINGSTAD/Special to the Press
| November 21, 2020 1:00 AM

Thanksgiving has been one of the busiest travel weekends of the year as people make arrangements to fly, drive or hitch a ride to come together as family. Thanksgiving reminds us that we aren’t individuals but part of a family that cares for us and we can depend on. It is also one way that family morals, cultural heritage and our religious beliefs are passed down from generation to generation which also shapes our identity and values. These Thanksgiving gatherings give us time to focus on those who are important to us.

It has seldom been more important than in 2020 to stop, take a break from the chaos of this year to focus our attention on who and what is around us and at the same time to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. We need that time to reconnect and break up the sameness that often fill our days in this environment. We need the smiles, conversation, food and traditions that bring us together. We need the stories that begin with, “Remember when….”. The traditions that strengthen and build up the family are the most important of all. Traditions help pass on important family values and bring a sense of security and predictability to children. We all like a sense of continuity because it builds feelings of security and do we ever need that right now.

Of course we are now being bombarded with more hysteria about COVID and we can’t have family gatherings. Certainly not more than two family groups and keep it under ten people, preferably outdoors. One person wrote that he understood that 25 people were allowed for a funeral so his plan was to have a funeral at his home on the 26th for his pet turkey! Refreshments will be served. This is funny, ludicrous and sad all at the same time. There is no doubt after nine months of instructions, much of it contradictory, we have “virus fatigue”. We see mass protests on the right and left along with actual riots that are allowed. The governor of California has a birthday dinner with a lobbyist and friends and apologizes for breaking the rules. The Speaker of the House cancels dinners for newly elected Representatives after it is revealed what she had planned. Protestors scream in the face of diners eating outdoors according to guidelines but they have no worry of arrest. But leading “Amazing Grace” in front of city hall in Moscow, Idaho will get you handcuffed and frog marched to the local jail. I would be less afraid of being arrested standing in front of Mitch McConnell’s house late at night screaming at the top of my lungs. But common sense tells us that casinos and liquor stores are fine to stay open even if Thanksgiving is cancelled.

We are told to be very afraid of the virus and yet two thirds of the deaths are 70 and older and half of all deaths were people in nursing homes. Jane and I both turn 76 this year, although we are healthy, exercise and have no underlying health issues we also realize we have a 94% chance of no complications from the virus. Median age of COVID deaths is 78 most with underlying issues.

Kids under the age of 24 are in little danger from COVID. Recent studies show that they seldom, if ever, transmit the virus to teachers or older relatives. CDC coded all deaths “died with COVID” rather than “died from COVID” but in April data was released that only about 6% of deaths were from COVID. If you under the age of 60 you have a greater risk of death by dying in a a car crash than from COVID, be careful driving this thanksgiving!

I will be accused of denying the risks of COVID and how it impacts health care and I understand the issues. The larger argument centers around this question: “Is the cure worse than the virus?” We have shut down churches, disrupted life canceling weddings and funerals and caused the loss of jobs for 30 million Americans. Even worse is the rise of suicides, domestic violence cases, drug use and depression. According to the American Medical Association, “More than 35 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder in counties and other areas within the state.”Center for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield said in a Buck Institute webinar that suicides and drug overdoses have surpassed the death rate for COVID-19 among high school students. Redfield argued that lockdowns and lack of public schooling constituted a disproportionally negative impact on young peoples’ mental health.

Archbishop Vigano in a letter to President Trump summarized this best, “Daily we sense the attacks multiplying of those who want to destroy the very basis of society: the natural family, respect for human life, love of country, freedom of education and business. We see heads of nations and religious leaders pandering to this suicide of Western culture and its Christian soul, while the fundamental rights of citizens and believers are denied in the name of a health emergency that is revealing itself more and more fully as instrumental to the establishment of an inhuman faceless tyranny”.

Our blessings all come from God. This Thanksgiving, make it a tradition to give thanks to the One that provides every gift and blessing. Don’t neglect the gathering together as a family, each day is precious. Jane and I have determined to be wise but also to “live fully each day”! We have four children, 24 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. We know this is not our home, but we have also related to them we want them to be in heaven someday with us. Knowing Jesus and being part of a family this time of year shouldn’t be set aside.

“Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."

Psalm 107: 1, 8, 9

Bob’s religion columns appear Saturdays in The Press. Email Bob: