It was 400 years ago this month that the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth, Mass., for a celebration that is today remembered as the first Thanksgiving. Eighty years ago, in December 1941, the United States proclaimed the fourth Thursday in November as the official Thanksgiving holiday. Countless pumpkin pies have been devoured since, and countless hours wasted watching the Detroit Lions attempt to play professional football.
Before we lapse into the inevitable food coma, here are some of the things we are thankful for this year:
- Vaccine availability. In development last year but widely available since the spring, COVID-19 vaccinations are helping to limit the spread of the disease and reduce the severity of its symptoms for those few people unlucky enough to suffer a breakthrough case.
- Plentiful jobs. The first wave of the pandemic brought an unprecedented drop in employment. Now the opposite is true — jobs are so plentiful, employers are complaining they can’t fill all of their openings. The shortage of workers has also resulted in pay increases and better working conditions for many Americans.
- A bigger Social Security increase. For many retirees, Social Security is a major source of income. Increases are tied to inflation and have been flat for years. But according to the Social Security Administration, approximately 70 million Americans will see a 5.9 percent increase in benefits next year. Of course, this is due to inflation, which is not something we are thankful for. But today we are looking at the positives.
- Soaking rain. After months of drought, the first seasonal rain arrived just in time to ward off what might have been a hellish wildfire season. Even though Vancouver is a long way from the forest, we didn’t miss the hazardous wildfire smoke that we suffered through in 2020. Now the rain is erasing the drought and recharging the reservoirs and aquifers that we rely on for power generation and drinking water.
- The ability to travel. Thanksgiving is the time to be with family members, and this year the gatherings seem especially sweet. Our pandemic is not over, and there are rules, restrictions and plain common sense that needs to be followed. But the fact is, it’s easier and safer to see our loved ones this year.
- In-person classes. Last school year’s remote learning delivered some education, but the setup was far from ideal. Some students were disengaged and others were disadvantaged. Social activities and sports were suspended. This year, in-person learning and all of its benefits are back.
- Eating indoors. Going out to eat took a literal turn last year, when health authorities limited or banned indoor dining. While dining in a tent in the winter was a novel experience, we prefer the dining room.
- Fired football coaches. First Washington State University parted ways with Nick Rolovich and four of his assistants who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a violation of state and university policy. Then the University of Washington suspended, then terminated Jimmy Lake after he was seen shoving a player in a moment of anger. It’s essential for these highly compensated, highly visible state employees to be held to high standards.
- Columbian readers. The local news business has been tough for a decade, as readers turn to online news, advertisers turn to the websites, and consumers turn to online shopping. But local news is important, and we are proud of the service we provide to our community. We couldn’t do it without our readers, who provide the majority of our news-gathering budget.