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Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving and it might seem difficult this year to find those things for which we are thankful. We are amid a raging pandemic that is keeping families apart during this holiday. Our country is divided, struggling to find our footing after a bitter election, a growing racial divide, and more Americans struggling to even put food on their table.

So, I asked the question that I asked four years ago … what is it we are thankful for this holiday season? I posted this on my Facebook page, emailed the question to several people, and we included it in the WhatsUpNewp newsletter. I had no idea what to expect. Things are quite different today than in 2016, when there was no pandemic and when we had come through a contentious election but had yet to experience a Trump presidency.

I asked for people to avoid saying the obvious, that they are thankful for their family, for their health, and I asked for people to refrain from politics. I asked for people to dig deeper, to be more reflective. But still there were those who mentioned family and health and I recognize how difficult it is to come to this family holiday and not show or mention our gratitude for those who are closest to us, and provide us with strength and inspiration daily.

What I found this year, in some ways, the same, but also quite different. Many of the responses were very thoughtful, some very heartfelt, but unlike 2016, it is clear how much the pandemic is consuming our lives, our thoughts. So, here it goes. I’ve included all the responses, with names, since I forewarned all that I would be using the responses on this site. These are in no order, mainly listed by when they came in. I would urge you read through the responses. You’ll find some gems, from the 96-year-old author who is thankful for just being able to remain independent, to the former health director, who is thankful for our democracy. Because of the number of sponsors, I’ve split this into two parts – the first to run today, the second tomorrow.

And to all of you – I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, even though it might be different this year. Think about the year and find those people to whom you are thankful. Touch base with family via online services, or that old fashioned device – the telephone. Call people who you want to thank. It’s a great day to show your gratitude. 

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Secretary of State Nellie M. GorbeaI’m thankful for the election officials in the cities and towns and in our state government that made this election happen in a way that showed the country that Rhode Island government can do better than other states. I’m thankful our democracy worked, and we are headed for a peaceful transition of power.

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State Rep. Deb Ruggiero, D- JamestownI’m very thankful for people who are wearing masks- an act of kindness for others. I wear my mask for your health and well-being and I’m thankful that you’re wearing your mask for me.  We will get through this pandemic if we help each other. 

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Dr. Michael Fine I’m thankful for my colleagues who work in hospitals and clinics, who are shouldering this burden foist on them by us, without complaining. I am thankful for grocery store workers, bus drivers, the health ambassadors in Central Falls, teachers, delivery people, police and fire — all the people who have kept showing up for work every day even though they can’t work from home. And often worked with Inadequate protection. 

And I am thankful for everyone who takes the time to listen to someone they disagree with and thinks about That person and what part of what they believe makes sense. That’s how we make democracy work. And finally, I am grateful for democracy itself, which allows us to resolve our differences peaceful, because only when we are at peace can human beings pursue happiness.

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Elliott Wiser – I am thankful for the next generation. Millennials and Gen Z’s are often maligned but represent a bright future. For the most part they are more accepting when it comes to race and gender. They are committed to controlling global warming. And they are a heck of lot smarter than we are. Their technical skills are superior, and they are exposed to more information. Let’s be thankful that the younger generation will fix some of the problems we left behind.

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Danny Gold – I’m thankful for my good health (especially in these difficult times), my loving wife and family, the antics of my grandchildren and the ability to watch them grow and mature and take great pleasure in their activities, the closeness and warmth of our cousins, their children and all members of our extended family and for living a full life that gave me great pleasure and happiness and allowed me to contribute to make the world a better place.

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Dante Ionata – I am thankful that computer technology has made it possible for two of my daughters and their husbands to work remotely from home.  Otherwise, they would be out of work because of the pandemic, and, of course, in deep financial trouble.  Similarly, computer technology has made it possible for my grandchildren to attend school remotely.

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Beth Dworetzky –I am thankful for the health care providers that continue to provide specialty medical services under increasingly stressful conditions because of the coronavirus pandemic. They put themselves and their families at risk by multiple exposures to ensure their patients receive the specialized services they need.

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State Rep. Lauren Carson, D-Newport – I am equally thankful as I am hopeful. I am hopeful that finally, our city, country and state can begin on a road for collaboration and understanding.

I am hopeful that our leadership will lead the way for overcoming COVID while we step back to build a community of tolerance. As a leader in Newport and Rhode Island, I stand ready to rise to this occasion.

I am grateful that we still have a working democracy in these United States and that we have hope for a united future together. I am grateful for my friends, colleagues, and the Newport community for working together to keep us all safe from COVID.  I am humbled by the events of this year and I look forward to a happy, healthy, and productive 2021.


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