JR Message of Thanksgiving.jpg

Hard to believe that Thanksgiving is here. Seems just yesterday that we were writing Islander News stories about restaurants shutting down, schools closing and life coming to a halt. That started in March.

Fast forward and see what 2020 has brought us. A pandemic of incredible proportions, astounding statistics of people infected by COVID-19, or dying from it. An economic downturn that saw local businesses close and people impacted by job loss or earnings reductions. A record-breaking hurricane season, with more named storms – 30 as of press time – than at any time in history. And, of course, probably the most contentious election in the island’s history.

Now, a second wave of coronavirus infections threatens this Thanksgiving, with the CDC and others discouraging large Thanksgiving gatherings of family and friends -- a longstanding tradition for millions of Americans.

Yet here we are, Thanksgiving Day, 2020. How do we put this year in perspective and allow ourselves to be thankful and grateful?

Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.” ―Doris Day

Gratitude means realizing that right now I have more of what really matters than ever before, no matter how difficult this moment might be.” -- Greg Baer

I’m very grateful this Thanksgiving. I believe some threats help bring people together. There is always a silver lining. This pandemic has brought me stress and many sleepless nights, but it has also delivered many pleasant surprises that I will cherish and keep with me long after the pandemic is over – and YES, it will be over.

I’ve been touched by acts of kindness from people who have shown themselves to be true, caring friends. In the darkest moments, an encouraging phone call, a text or message – “Are you going to be ok. How can I help?” - literally saved the moment and refocused me to keep fighting on.

As the pandemic changed our lives, you saw endless samples of good being done on the island. Michele Estevez and Angela Rizzi launched an effort to adopt and feed families in need. The Key Biscayne Community Foundation kicked into high gear to protect our most vulnerable: seniors. Residents like Christina Bracken, Mayra Mesa, and 100 more volunteers who assist our seniors. The beloved Roxy Lohuis-Tejeda, who seemed to be everywhere from manning the COVID-testing line to running senior virtual events. Judy Koslen, who made “KB Angel” bracelets for the volunteers helping seniors. And Susan Sawyer, whose sewing circle early on made hundreds of masks.

More than anything, we are thankful for the positive attitude of workers in our essential businesses, making you smile when interacting with them. People like Jasmanny Gonzalez, always so helpful at Winn Dixie, or Susan Garcia at The Golden Hog, who is in perpetual motion -- except when she stops to say “hi!” to her customers.

To all of these special people, THANK YOU. We are grateful.

As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, please keep safety top of mind. Weigh the potential risks to loved ones, as the virus is on the rise – with 250+ new island cases in November. Safeguarding our health, and that of our loved ones, must come first.

Doing this will ensure there will be more holiday celebrations in the years ahead.

I am fortunate, as I have a lot to be thankful for: health, an incredible family, a strong group of true friends, home and a lot more -- including the Islander News, a business that will survive this pandemic and thrive moving forward, allowing us to continue serving this wonderful community as it has since 1966.

On this Thanksgiving 2020, our Islander News family is most thankful for YOU -- our readers and our advertisers who support our local journalism. THANK YOU!

Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, then prepare your hearts for the Christmas season.

Bless each of you and have a happy, safe and memorable Thanksgiving.