Many people cite Thanksgiving as their favorite holiday. Thanksgiving lacks the commercialism of Christmas, the party-all-night energy of New Year’s Eve, and the religious overtones and rituals of Passover or Easter, yet it uniquely unites people of all faiths and walks of life around a central theme: gratitude. It is the one day each year set aside to focus, along with family and friends, on the people and things in our lives for which we are most grateful.

COVID-19 has changed the way we celebrate many holidays. Thanksgiving 2021, coming 21 months into the pandemic, may look different from those of previous years. There may be fewer people around the table as we carve the turkey this year. Yet our expression of gratitude will be as important as ever, particularly as we think of those who have helped us navigate these challenging times.

As you call to mind your blessings this Thanksgiving, take a moment to remember the sacrifices made by our healthcare providers. Physicians and nurses who have worked tirelessly to care for the sick over the past year are unsung heroes, as are the home health aides, physical therapists and respiratory therapists, assisted living staff, social workers, and family caregivers.

Let’s also pause to remember the essential workers who kept us going during the darkest times of the pandemic. Where would we have been without the grocery store workers, delivery drivers, restaurant staff, utility workers, repair people, and all those who contributed to keeping goods and services moving when much of our society shut down?

If you are able, please consider putting your gratitude into action this year. As you think of all those who have made a difference in the lives of our sick and elderly populations, perhaps you might lighten their load by volunteering some time in your community. Or, if your circumstances allow, think about making a charitable contribution to a healthcare facility or other non-profit doing work that you support and appreciate.

Helen Keller said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” As we give thanks for our blessings this year, let’s think about how we can work together to make the world a brighter place for others. Isn’t that the true spirit of Thanksgiving?