Giving thanks during this pandemic

To stop feeling resentful and angry about the holiday restrictions, we may need to
empathize with those who suffer and grieve from the effects of this pandemic.

WE’RE all struggling during this pandemic — struggling that does not seem to end.  We all wish that we can celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year without any restrictions. But here we are. We’re told to keep our indoor gatherings small and refrain from traveling to prevent the further rise of COVID-19 cases.

It is challenging for many of us who come from large families to follow these restrictions.

It’s hard for most of us who love to celebrate the holidays. What would Christmas be without Midnight Mass and other church gatherings? What would the holidays be without seeing parents, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews?

Without minimizing these depressing sentiments, we need to look at these restrictions as sacrifices not only for individuals and families but also as a nation. If we care for everyone’s health, we have to cooperate with our government leaders and medical experts to stop the spread of virus infection and more deaths.

To stop feeling resentful and angry about the holiday restrictions, we may need to empathize with those who suffer and grieve from the effects of this pandemic. Many people lose their loved ones this year, and there are those whose significant others are confined in the hospital and could not even see them. There are doctors, nurses, and other caregivers who have to spend long hours on these holidays to take care of the sick.

It may just be this year that we won’t be able to celebrate our traditional celebration of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year until an effective vaccine arises. This year we’ll just have to make sacrifices for the common good. There will be our usual celebrations next year and in the following years.

Still, I hope that the pandemic will not stop us from reflecting on our blessings and thanking God and others for them.

We thank God for the blessings of families and friends who are with us when the going gets tough. We thank God for our jobs, our communities, and our churches. We thank God for faith-filled people who inspire us to keep doing our work, fulfill our responsibilities, and trust in God amid this pandemic. We thank God for those who care for us when we are sick, lonely, and scared.

Our celebrations this year may be limited, but not the thoughts of God’s goodness to us when we look at the entire history of our lives and the world. So, I hope that we could still say a heartfelt and profound prayer of gratitude to God at Thanksgiving dinner despite the absence of family members. Whether two, three, four, eight, or even alone, we give thanks to God for his blessings, abundant or scarce.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.

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