The Better Part of Valor
Thanksgiving, this year, will be different. Many have lost loved ones while others have lost their employment or their own health. Overall, it may seem like there is little to be thankful for and every reason to feel sorry for ourselves. It has been a difficult year, and we are left with fewer options and more limitations for celebrating. The pandemic has left the U.S. and the world frailer and more vulnerable, so efforts such as travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders, and mask mandates are still important. Yet, as we move toward an effective, available vaccine and we learn more about COVID, we can be thankful for some things; and we can celebrate our resilience and find creative ways to be together and help others this Thanksgiving.
This is Not Unprecedented
We can start by learning from the past. On November 16, 1918, the Oregon Daily Journal, and many newspapers worldwide, carried messages from clergy asking everyone to do the right thing and “put the smallness of the individual into perspective with the vastness of humanity”. Health experts attributed the “renewal of the grip epidemic” to the November 11 Armistice Day festivities.
‘On Nov. 27, 1918, St. Louis reported its highest new daily case count (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) since the epidemic began, and Buffalo, New York, reported its largest jump in daily cases (Buffalo Express) since the lifting of its pandemic ban weeks earlier. Both cities subsequently cracked down on public gatherings, limited the number of passengers on streetcars, and ordered those cars to be ventilated and cleaned.’ (Grace Hauck, USA Today, 11.21.20)
On November 28, 1918, this Thanksgiving Day notice appeared in the Omaha World-Herald:
“More than 200,000 dead since March. Cities in lockdown. Vaccine trials underway. See that Thanksgiving celebrations are restricted as much as possible so as to prevent another flare-up.”
The Message for Thanksgiving 2020
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading expert in infectious diseases in the US made this statement regarding COVID-19 holiday restrictions: “It is disappointing, but let’s get through this so we can celebrate many, many more Thanksgivings. The better part of valor is to stay home and stay safe.”
For inspiration, here are two examples of ways to put collective good over self:
Be a Happy Day Maker
A community in Minnesota has been challenged to write letters to the residents in local senior housing centers.
“You can simply address it to “Resident” (as names are confidential) with the facility’s address and they will distribute to their wonderful tenants. Sharing a story, a memory of a holiday past or a little about yourself and your family is all it takes to warm a heart. Cards are so appreciated as well. Perhaps you find a clipping of something funny that can bring a chuckle or even a snicker. All it takes is a stamp and envelope.” This is the other side of valor!
Be a Daughter Who Loves
“It’s amazing how much laundry goes down in a fairly small nursing home once a week.” This was the observation of MJ Ryan, a healthcare executive who took work leave and worked as a laundry worker in the home where her mother was a resident.
Staff shortages meant her offer to help was readily accepted, and the time she got to spend with her Mother was priceless. She recognized the decline in her Mom’s condition, knew it would only worsen, and decided the other side of valor for her was to become an employee, giving her ready access to her Mom.
MJ was with her Mom when she died last week and commented on her own loss and grief but is grateful for the time with her Mom and the benefit it brought to the entire nursing home.
We Are Thankful for You
We can heed the call to rise above our individualism and look for ways to honor the entire population. This is being done every day by frontline healthcare workers, and we at Patient Pattern thank them for their service and for their demonstration of valor – in the face of life-threatening situations.