There’s a common practice during November to list daily all things we have to be thankful for in our lives.
This has become especially popular on social media and blogs over the past few years.
Newspaper editors, for decades, have made similar lists leading up to and during the week of Thanksgiving. It’s part of our job. We are the cheerleaders of our communities, and although we spend a lot of time talking about negative things that go on locally, we also have the unique perspective of seeing the positives that others may not be able or willing to see.
The year 2020 will go down as one of the more challenging years in recent memory, but it hasn’t been all bad. There’s a lot to be thankful for.
If you don’t believe me, just go back and flip through The E-T since January.
There have been some really horrific things, including prison riots, tornados, school closures and countless sufferings from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But there have also been some really great stories throughout the year.
Putting this newspaper together each week has been, in a way, therapeutic for The E-T staff.
Every time we could have gotten completely bummed out about the economic recession, the virus and other issues, we saw people in the community rise up. There are dozens of inspiring stories that hopefully did not get buried in the gloomy headlines of 2020.
Sunflower County has always been fortunate to have two great hospitals operating in Indianola and Ruleville, but I doubt anyone had ever realized how special our health care professionals truly are until the COVID-19 pandemic hit back in the spring.
These are people who put themselves in danger every day, even before the pandemic, to help their patients.
It was truly inspiring to watch each week as the hospitals and clinics in this county navigated the virus, while providing necessary services to those in need.
It was just as inspiring to see the community get behind these great men and women by delivering food, supplies and support to the industry each week.
Who can forget all those in the community who went to work almost immediately making masks for health care workers?
It’s hard to believe it now, but there was actually a time when Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like N95 masks were in short supply, and those masks that were sewn and stitched by volunteers right here in Sunflower County were greatly needed.
There were also inspiring stories with kids picking up litter during the pandemic and students as well as teachers learning to adapt to online education.
Most area churches also had to adapt to the use of technology, as in-person services were all but halted in March.
Through this, many places of worship have embraced technology and its ability to reach a whole new audience during worship services and continue to utilize these avenues even as congregations have started to meet together again.
For every negative story that has dominated the headlines in 2020, there are plenty of positive stories to tell.
We just have to keep reminding ourselves of this.
There’s absolutely no shame in being bummed out about 2020. It has been a difficult year, and some people have suffered far worse than others.
Some families have lost loved ones, not only to COVID-19, but to other illnesses and circumstances, that in normal times would make the holidays unbearable.
The pandemic, and all of its side effects, just compound those problems.
The trick is to be diligent about remembering the positive things about life, because they are there.
I enjoy looking back through the last eight months of newspapers, because it reminds me how resilient this community is, and that it would not allow a global pandemic to break us.
COVID-19 tested our strength, but it has not broken our spirit.
Let’s ride that spirit into the final month of 2020 and finish strong.