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Are you finding it a little difficult to be sincerely thankful this Thanksgiving?

I understand.

We've been told by our government that we can't have our normal Thanksgiving this year, whether that's a big family get-together or a night out at our favorite restaurant.

We can't serve at our charity of choice's annual Thanksgiving dinner for homeless people or those struggling to survive, because the charity was told it couldn't host the dinner. Ditto with our favorite Turkey Trot morning (full disclosure, I watch — I don't trot).

Personally, I'll miss watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade actually parade, although apparently it will still be on television — as a virtual event. It looks like I will be able to watch some football actually moving, although there won't be anyone in the stands.

I'm not sure exactly how the football moguls got the green light. Undoubtedly, it has something to do with money — big money. Clearly a lot more money than a restaurant's lost Thanksgiving Day receipts.

And there you go. I made it past 170 words without uttering coronavirus or COVID-19. That's something to be thankful for.

I apologize for appearing to take the situation lightly. I understand the dire consequences of this nasty disease. I believe the science of how it spreads, and I accept the disastrous number of fatalities county, state, nationally and worldwide attributed to COVID-19. I'm particularly sorry for those whose loved ones have been killed by the disease.

I'm also sympathetic to those whose livelihood have been directly impacted by what seems to be draconian measures taken by our governments in an attempt to slow the spread. I understand the pushback against the latest shutdown by my restaurant owner friends, even though I don't fully agree with the way they use statistics to make their case.

My work routine has changed drastically, but I still have work to do, and a paycheck coming in. Far too many cannot say the same.

So why should we be even talking about giving thanks?

Let's try to turn this thing around a bit. It goes like this — I'm thankful I live where I have the right to talk about these issues, and to express disagreement with my government. I'm personally thankful that I have a platform to express those thoughts and where I can help others express their thoughts as well.

I'm thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends. I'm very thankful for those experts caring for people who are ill or are struggling to live in these pandemic times.

I'm thankful for those scientists who are working miracles to find vaccines to fight coronavirus in record time, and those creating the system to distribute that vaccine as soon as it is available.

I'm thankful for the many nonprofits who are soldiering on and finding ways to help those in need even if they are not allowed to serve a communal meal. I'm thankful for the many other service organizations continuing to offer help right through Thanksgiving so homeless people and others have someplace to turn.

Let's not forget to be thankful for all those police officers and firefighters on duty Thanksgiving Day and every other day to protect and serve. Add the trash haulers, the store workers and others working on Thanksgiving to make our lives a little easier.

On an even more personal level, I'm thankful for my faith in God and a belief that He never gives us more travails than we can handle. I'm thankful for the community of faith that shares my belief and works toward a better world.

I am very, very thankful for you, too. It is a real blessing to live in a community where the vast majority of people's first inclination is to help. I've said before that Long Beach —or more accurately the people of Long Beach — may be the most charitable community in the country, and I still believe that. The need is great, and the city's heart is huge.

That's something to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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