Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing, everyone!

Since World War II, when Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt and Con­gress agreed on a date, Amer­i­cans have gath­ered on the fourth Thurs­day of Novem­ber to cel­e­brate the bless­ings of the year and express grat­i­tude for boun­ti­ful harvests.

The hol­i­day actu­al­ly dates all the way back to the 1500s, when some of the first Euro­peans to reach North Amer­i­ca gave thanks for what they had. The first Thanks­giv­ing in what is now the Unit­ed States is thought by many his­to­ri­ans to have been cel­e­brat­ed by the Span­ish at St. Augus­tine, Flori­da, in 1565. There were also Thanks­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tions in Vir­ginia in 1619, two years before the Pil­grims and the Wampanoag Native Amer­i­cans com­mem­o­rat­ed the often-depict­ed life­sav­ing har­vest at Ply­mouth Plan­ta­tion in Massachusetts.

Abra­ham Lin­coln made use of both Thanks­giv­ing, in the 1860s large­ly cel­e­brat­ed north of the Mason-Dixon Line, espe­cial­ly with­in New Eng­land, and Christ­mas, cel­e­brat­ed large­ly to the south, toward fur­ther unit­ing the nation. That, in turn, ini­ti­at­ed the change in mean­ing for Thanks­giv­ing, even­tu­al­ly pro­vid­ing room to dis­cuss in pub­lic the suf­fer­ing of Native Amer­i­cans over the centuries.

It’s a good time to reflect on that with which we’ve been blessed, to pray for those who aren’t as for­tu­nate, to remem­ber those, as stat­ed in Pres­i­dent Biden’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Procla­ma­tion, “…feel­ing the pain of an emp­ty chair at the Thanks­giv­ing table,” and to con­sid­er next steps for the com­ing year.

Here are some of the things we’re thank­ful for:

COVID-19 relief + overdue investments in public services

We’re thank­ful that we have a pres­i­dent, vice pres­i­dent and Con­gress who are focused on try­ing to raise up peo­ple’s lives instead of using gov­ern­ment as a weapon to pun­ish their adversaries.

Thanks to Joe Biden, Kamala Har­ris, and Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of Con­gress, the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan and the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act are now law, and Build Back Bet­ter is on its way to join­ing them.

COVID-19 vaccines and new medicines

We’re thank­ful for vac­cines that pro­tect against COVID-19 and have made it pos­si­ble to resume many pre-pan­dem­ic activ­i­ties with less risk.

We’re also thank­ful for the like­ly immi­nent avail­abil­i­ty of Mol­nupi­ravir and Paxlovid, which in tests reduced the need for hos­pi­tal­iza­tion of the unvac­ci­nat­ed by 50% and 85%, respectively.

Essential workers

We’re thank­ful for the essen­tial employ­ees, espe­cial­ly those work­ing in schools, retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties, nurs­ing homes, and hos­pi­tals, who have served their com­mu­ni­ties through this dif­fi­cult time; and for those that have worked incred­i­bly hard to be large­ly inclu­sive and inven­tive in the midst of a very dif­fi­cult time.

We’re thank­ful that work­ers, in the midst of the pan­dem­ic, have found their lim­it and their voice, who refuse to be treat­ed some­where between shab­bi­ly and dan­ger­ous­ly in accom­plish­ing their tasks, who have decid­ed that their hap­pi­ness lies beyond the pay­check, at least for a lit­tle while, and who have decid­ed that now is the time to deter­mine what hap­pi­ness and con­tent­ment through employ­ment real­ly means for them.

Unions and worker organizing on the rise

We’re thank­ful for the byprod­ucts of the Great Res­ig­na­tion — bet­ter treat­ment on the job for many, improved con­tracts for union­ized employ­ees, and an increas­ing desire for the unor­ga­nized to get organized.

The end of Britney Spears’ conservatorship

We’re thank­ful for #FreeBrit­ney, a move­ment that drew need­ed atten­tion to con­ser­va­tor­ships, a legal sys­tem of restric­tions and con­trols some­times imposed on dis­abled or elder­ly peo­ple through the courts, and cre­at­ed the space not just to address the most mar­gin­al cas­es of mis­tak­en or mis­placed con­ser­va­tor­ships and guardian­ships, but to rethink the whole ratio­nale for these arrangements.

Advances in renewable energy

We’re thank­ful for the con­tin­u­ing plum­met in the cost of solar and wind pow­er, some­thing that as recent­ly as a decade ago was con­sid­ered a “some­day dream.”

Coal is on track to become too expen­sive to use in most of the west­ern world. Chi­na is hav­ing major argu­ments from with­in its lead­er­ship over its use (and present­ly is increas­ing use large­ly because cli­mate dam­age is hit­ting them far hard­er than it is in North Amer­i­ca, which is hard to believe, at times, but true), which will like­ly become moot once their elec­tri­cal trans­mis­sion net­works are back on track. Rare earth mate­ri­als may soon not be need­ed as part of the pro­duc­tion process, and new means of acquir­ing ener­gy are on track to become a reality.

Cost of living increases

We’re thank­ful for retirees receiv­ing a 5.9% boost in their ben­e­fits start­ing in 2022 – the largest cost of liv­ing increase since 1982.

NPI supporters

And final­ly, we’re thank­ful that we were able to expand our research polling to the local lev­el this year. Many Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate read­ers stepped up with con­tri­bu­tions to make that hap­pen. You’re the best! Have a great Thanksgiving.

Rich Erwin

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