In a joint op-ed published by CNN on Thanksgiving Day, President-elect Joe Biden and future first lady Jill Biden gave thanks to Americans living through the age of COVID-19, encouraging everyone to keep moving forward through a “year of loss.”
“This Thanksgiving, tables throughout our country will have an empty chair,” the article begins. Referring to themselves, they continued, “This year, our turkey will be smaller and the clatter of cooking a little quieter. There will be no family walks in the cold or playful bickering amongst the grandkids. Like millions of Americans, we are temporarily letting go of the traditions we can’t do safely.”
The op-ed goes on to stress that despite the hardship of a year defined by social distancing and the unrelenting coronavirus pandemic, the Bidens express gratitude to the heroes of 2020, including health care workers, scientists and the millions of parents who are juggling the stresses of working at home while tending to children and, in many cases, overseeing their kids’ virtual education.
“We are grateful for the frontline workers who have never sopped showing up over these long and confusing months, making sure our food is harvested and shipped, keeping our grocery stores stocked, picking up our trash, and keeping our cities and towns safe.We are grateful for the health care workers who put in long shifts and isolate themselves from their loved ones, the nurses who comfort and help people say one last goodbye, and the doctors who fight for every breath.We are grateful for the educators who learned to teach in virtual classrooms almost overnight, who did extra work to reach families without adequate technology or who took late-night phone calls from parents on the verge of tears.We are grateful for the parents who have carried their families through the chaos, working or searching for a job, while navigating childcare and remote learning.We are grateful for the researchers and scientists who have spent this year learning everything they can to understand how to fight this pandemic and are working tirelessly to find a vaccine and therapeutics.We are grateful for the American spirit of our people, who do not cower in the face of crisis and hardship but instead come together to lift up one another. All those who lost jobs but not heart, who donated to food banks or asked their neighbors, What can I do? How can I help? We’re grateful for everyone who reminded us that we are bigger than the challenges we face.”
“This year of loss has revealed our collective strength,” the article concludes. “It has shown us that our lives are connected in ways unseen – that we can be apart without being alone… We’re going to get through this together, even if we have to be apart.”
The Bidens’ Thanksgiving message of remaining optimistic while taking precautions against the coronavirus contrasted with the White House’s traditional Thanksgiving proclamation issued on Wednesday, in which President Donald Trump urged all Americans to “gather in homes and places of worship” to celebrate the holiday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website that “the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” making Trump’s remarks directly at odds with the recommendation given by his own government.
Read the Bidens’ full op-ed here.