The Secretary of Agriculture for the squirrel population of America is elated.
While the final tally hasn’t been released, the Department of Agriculture believes the fall of 2020 will record the greatest harvest of acorns since 1620.
I can assure you this isn’t a fake news headline.
Our next door neighbor’s white oak tree was responsible for dropping 17,577,999 acorns on our lawns, driveway, and road surface. For weeks, those acorns pinged off of any hard surface they hit.
At a press conference held at the corner of Foxcroft and Sweetbriar, Deputy Secretary of Squirrel Agriculture, Sebastian Squirrel, recommended that all humans who walk under an acorn loaded oak tree should wear a hard hat to reduce the risk of brain damage.
When a reporter asked the Deputy Secretary if squirrels should wear hard hats while harvesting and chowing down on acorns his answer was a surprising, “ No.”
A reporter asked a follow-up question, and the Deputy Secretary clarified his “no” with a scientific response: “From eating acorns, squirrel noggins have an extra shell of protection. This shell allows even the largest acorn to ping harmlessly off the skull of the squirrel.”
This prompted another question from a reporter who wondered if squirrels who were constantly hit in the head by wayward acorns might suffer like some professional football players with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The Deputy Secretary affirmed that squirrel skulls are tough. But he did confirm their research found that squirrel skulls can’t withstand the weight of a road paver when a squirrel carelessly darts into the machine’s path.
To which the reporter replied, “Wow, that’s a no brainer.”
And then a few days later, a more urgent health message was delivered to squirrels across America.
This came from the Surgeon General of Squirrels who issued a health warning about the abundance of acorns.
The Surgeon General set recommended daily acorn consumption levels. Squirrels who over indulge in acorn consumption are more likely to flop when diving from tree limb to tree limb. This could be particularly dangerous to their health if this tree hopping takes place over roadways.
This warning from the Surgeon General was a disappointment to homeowners across America. Come this spring, they can expect to have a bumper crop of young oak trees sprouting up in their yards.
That’s enough about acorns and squirrels.
Let’s focus on Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
And without question my answer is grounded in food.
That Thanksgiving spread has never disappointed me.
But, in truth there is another critical ingredient for Thanksgiving to be a real success—and that is family.
This year, thanks to that demon, COVID-19, travel and family gatherings are not recommended for Thanksgiving.
And as long as I live, I will always wonder “if” we could have pulled this Thanksgiving off.
What might have happened earlier in this battle “if” we had completely committed to follow COVID-19 protocols?
“If” is a big word.
I wonder in the collective consciousness of our hindsight will we regret—would have, could have, and should have.
Hindsight can be an effective teacher. But, it is effective only “if” we are willing to learn.
I hope I am willing to be a continuing learner.
I was in a Zoom call the other day with church people from Methodist churches around the Richmond district. We’ve been meeting regularly to figure out how to help people during this pandemic.
As the meeting started, we were asked how we were feeling about the holiday season with COVID-19?
In truth, my response was grounded in thankfulness.
No matter where I look, I note people who have been impacted by the cruel nature of COVID-19. At this stage, my family and I have been lucky.
Is that because we have followed the recommended protocols or have we just been lucky so far?
Maybe the answer is a bit of both.
Yes, I am tired of covidography.
But, I am even more tired of our divided, selfish, inability to follow a few simple protective measures.
Maybe Americans who have been unwilling to follow these measures should have a conversation with a family member from one of the 250,000 people in America who have died from COVID-19.
And then, compare those losses to another sad figure—58,209 United States military personnel were killed in the Vietnam War.
Ponder that for a minute or two.
Then maybe they should extend that conversation to first responders, hospital personnel, people who are responsible for setting up temporary morgues, people working around the clock to keep us supplied, and those who are developing a reliable and safe vaccine.
I am an imperfect human being. My wife has years of research to certify this fact.
But, when our individual imperfections prevent us from helping to squeeze the life out of COVID-19 that is not good for any of us.
Perhaps, you have seen the movie Get Low. Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray are in the film.
The lead character, a hermit, a loner, Felix Bush, played by Robert Duvall decides he wants to have his funeral before he dies. Somehow he convinces the owner of the local funeral home, Bill Murray, to do this.
The screenplay written by Chris Provenzano, Scott Seeke, and C. Gaby Mitchell has some interesting moments.
One of those moments is at the pre-death funeral when Charlie, the African American minister, played by Bill Cobbs is speaking. We learn that years ago Preacher Charlie befriended Mr. Bush.
In his remarks, Preacher Charlie states: “We like to imagine that good and bad, right and wrong are miles apart. But, the truth is, very often, they’re all tangled up with each other.”
Right now, we Americans are all tangled up with each other.
Our entanglement with good and bad, and right and wrong isn’t a healthy one.
Somehow, someway, we must figure out how to untangle ourselves.
We can’t continue this way, and our hearts know it.
This Thanksgiving, I am sure squirrels are thankful about the bumper crop of acorns.
But, what about me this Thanksgiving?
Am I thankful?
Yes, I am thankful.
Here are some of my affirmations of heartfelt gratitude.
I’m thankful for people who volunteered to participate in vaccine trials.
And speaking of volunteers, I’m thankful for volunteers at food banks and for the people who donate food items every week.
For my parents and in-laws who taught me the value of traditions like Thanksgiving.
For grandparents in this pandemic who have suddenly become classroom teachers in the homes of their grandchildren while their parents work.
I’m thankful for my family and friends who tolerate me.
I’m appreciative of farmers and truck drivers.
For all of the people who work behind the scenes of everyday life to keep us going.
I’m thankful for practical thinkers who are trying to solve our challenges.
I appreciate this new breed of human sanitizers who attack grocery carts, card machines, and all things related to checking out.
I am grateful for the never ending energy of grandchildren.
And if he’s listening out there in the blue yonder—I’m thankful for the patience of God.
For some unexplained reason, he has kept us around.
Never let this Thanksgiving of 2020 escape your memory.
Be safe, love, Bill Pike
Some of the bumper crop of acorns in our yard by Bill Pike