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Christmas can’t come soon enough for cattle country

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In a year like this, traditional norms no longer apply, it seems.

A colleague, commenting on an event that was appropriate for a year like this, dubbed it, “Just another 2020 moment.”

Indeed, it seems that everything is amplified this year, especially the things that can bring you down. Perhaps that’s the reason folks in my neighborhood are already stringing Christmas lights. Not to be outdone, my wife enlisted the grandkids to help string some lights along the front fence.

Prior to that, she suggested that we—that would be the singular we, meaning me—bring the small artificial Christmas tree in from the garage. That’s the tree she puts in the grandkids’ room.

“We” suggested that it’s normal for us to not give Christmas a nod until after Thanksgiving. The other “we” suggested that after I find the tree and lights, I fetch the extension cords and mind my own business.

Indeed, in a year like this, traditional norms no longer apply, it seems.

I suspect that’s the reason Christmas lights are appearing much earlier than usual. Folks are searching for any ray of hope in a year unlike no other. That ray of hope is what Christmas is all about and the bright lights of the season bring that into clear focus.

But as we look forward to the end of year we want to forget but will always remember, let’s not look past the significance of Thanksgiving. Ours will be small, just our kids and grandkids rather than the extended family that usually gathers for the Thanksgiving meal.

That’s because of the rising number of COVID cases and the state’s suggestion that everyone limit the size of gatherings. Given the political climate we endure, it’s easy to be skeptical of just about everything, including the growing number of COVID cases we hear about.

Furthermore, what goes on inside my house is nobody’s business, especially the government’s. But we think it’s wise to be cautious, so Thanksgiving this year will be just another 2020 moment.

I spent a couple weeks in North Dakota recently and noticed that a lot of folks there didn’t wear masks. Then I get a report that indicates North and South Dakota have the greatest number of COVID cases per capita in the country.

That number is telling but needs to be unpacked a little. North and South Dakota don’t have the population density of many other states, so percentages will be skewed. Nonetheless, COVID-19 is something to be taken seriously, so let’s be careful out there.

In spite of everything 2020 has wrought, we still have plenty to be thankful for. So pause a moment and think—what in your life brings you joy and peace, and then thank those who make that possible.

So, if stringing Christmas lights in the weeks before Thanksgiving brings you joy and peace, then do it. And be thankful that 2020 will soon come to an end.

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