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We’ve got so much more to be thankful for on this holiday | Jenice Armstrong

After spending last year’s holiday mostly isolated at home, this time around we will be with relatives and friends — all vaccinated, of course. We’re in a better place, and the nation is as well.

As a nation, at least we have more to be thankful for than we did at this time last year.
As a nation, at least we have more to be thankful for than we did at this time last year.Read moreDreamstime / MCT

Thanksgiving wasn’t created to be a table-for-two affair, so I’m grateful to have gotten a Pfizer vaccine booster shot so my husband and I can spend Thanksgiving with others Thursday — instead of it being just us seated far apart on opposite ends of the dining room table like last year.

I’m grateful for that as well as a lot of other things this year, especially all the things I took for granted pre-pandemic, like Philly’s Thanksgiving parade that’s returning after a year’s hiatus. Even if I won’t bother to watch the entire thing, having the live event on in the background will make it feel as if life as we once knew it is back. If the last year and a half has taught us anything, it’s to not take traditions for granted.

My family spent last year’s holiday mostly isolated at home, but this time we will gather with family and friends — all vaccinated of course. We’re in a much better place.

As a nation, for the most part, we are as well, even though COVID rates are trending up again.

I’m incredibly thankful — not to mention relieved — that jurors in Georgia did the right thing and found three white men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black jogger, guilty on multiple counts. Justice has been served.

I’m happy that Congress passed President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill so our region can finally get some much-needed new bridges and roads. SEPTA estimates it will get an extra $120 million this year, in addition to about $300 million the transit agency also will receive under existing U.S. aid formulas.

» READ MORE: This Thanksgiving, be thankful for where and what you are not | Trudy Rubin

I’m pleased that the House passed the Build Back Better bill, which will, among other things extend child-care tax credits, reduce prescription drug costs, strengthen the Affordable Care Act, and expand Medicare coverage. I’m skeptical but also hopeful that the Senate will somehow figure out a reasonable compromise and follow suit.

It feels like a long time ago but I remain grateful that Biden was inaugurated in January. Detractors point to his sagging poll numbers but his avuncular calm is a balm that the nation sorely needs. I’m relieved that Donald J. Trump is no longer president and look forward to the time when he’s no longer a dominant force in American politics.

I’m grateful that our democracy held firm on Jan. 6 after right-wing insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in a misguided attempt to block the certification of the presidential election. The Jan. 6 commission is continuing its investigation, which is the right thing to do. The leaders of that insurrection shouldn’t go unpunished.

American troops are finally out of Afghanistan and that’s a really good thing. Two decades is way longer than we should have been there, although the way we left was mishandled and a disgrace.

I’m pleased we now have safe and effective coronavirus vaccines as well as treatments for COVID-19 patients. I worry about those who haven’t yet been inoculated — unvaccinated people overwhelmingly account for new cases, as well as serious infections.

I am dismayed by Philly’s out-of-control homicide rate. It will easily surpass the 1990 record high of 500 with no end or viable solution in sight.

On a more positive note, live indoor events are back. It also feels good to watch the return of beloved Philly traditions such as the Philadelphia Marathon and the Broad Street Run. I’m annoyed about the return of the Mummers Parade but that’s a whole other column.

I am glad that Target and some other retailers have decided to give their employees Thanksgiving Day off as they did last year when stores were closed to limit crowd sizes because of COVID-19. Target claims the change is permanent. Shoppers need to hold them to it. Retail workers deserve paid time off to be with their families.

Finally, at a time when there’s so much national disunity as well as distrust in the mainstream media, I’m thankful for loyal readers who support local journalism and see the benefit of staying informed and the exchange of ideas and opinions, even the ones they don’t agree with.

As we gather around the table and say a Thanksgiving blessing over the food, I’ll bow my head, grab my husband’s hand and give thanks. I’ll also pray for better days ahead.