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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dad Daze: Thanksgiving is a time to not take anything for granted

UPDATED: Sun., Nov. 21, 2021

“I was so happy that I could play sports again,” Milo Condran, 16, said. “I feel like I’ve worked out harder once I was allowed back into the gym. It was so weird for there to be no practice or games.”  (Ed Condran/The Spokesman-Review)
“I was so happy that I could play sports again,” Milo Condran, 16, said. “I feel like I’ve worked out harder once I was allowed back into the gym. It was so weird for there to be no practice or games.” (Ed Condran/The Spokesman-Review)

Thanksgiving was like “Groundhog Day” – not the holiday, but the 1993 film – for yours truly thanks to my old-school, Depression-era parents. There was nothing like the aroma of the 20-pound turkey and eventually my mother’s stuffing, which was mixed with ground meat, that permeated the house late morning.

Dinner, for some reason, was always served at noon. While feasting, my mother would speak of how we should give thanks for what we take for granted such as our everyday lives. “My father left Poland after World War I for America since he didn’t trust the Germans,” my mother said. “He was worried about how his life could change and not for the better.”

So, my grandfather made his way to Ellis Island in 1919. I was only paying a bit of attention to my mother. I failed to appreciate how prescient my grandfather was a century ago. I had stuffing and the Detroit Lions game on my mind. By the end of our exceedingly early massive meal, the Lions would play and were often slaughtered by the opposition, starting at 12:30 p.m.

I ignored my mother’s conversation about how our way of life could end. That discussion had to do with the extreme struggle she and my father endured as children on the edge of poverty, which led to a very conservative life. My parents always worried about the rug being pulled out from under them. My parents lived in fear and always avoided debt. “What if something unforeseen should happen?” my mother would ask. “How would we pay for what we don’t need?”

Well, the unforeseen arrived March 16, 2020, exactly a week before what would have been my mother’s 91st birthday. That was when lockdown officially commenced. So many lives were changed dramatically. A staggering amount of folks were taken by COVID-19. Myriad people lost their livelihood and had to pivot professionally. Depression hit new heights or perhaps depths. Thanksgiving 2020 was not an uplifting experience.

But it could have been much worse. Thankfully, a vaccine arrived. The pandemic still rages on, but I’m so thankful where we are since I recall what it was like at this time last year. I recall writing about the uncertain future of the Garland Theater. I remember interviewing those in the concert industry who wondered when we would again experience the joy of live performance. The Garland is back, and concerts have returned.

My children are as thankful as I am for the return of relative normalcy. Jane, 12, who is an inveterate academic, missed interacting with her instructors. “It was such an adjustment not being in a class,” Jane said. “I missed my friends. We were on group chats, but it wasn’t the same. I also missed seeing my teachers. It’s just better to be working with them in person.”

My son, Milo, 16, reacted as predicted when asked about what he was thankful for since he missed competition. “I was so happy that I could play sports again,” Milo said. “I took it for granted. After playing baseball, hockey and football for years, I was just so used to being able to go out and play. I feel like I’ve worked out harder once I was allowed back into the gym. It was so weird for there to be no practice or games.”

Eddie, 19, missed his friends. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to hang out with everyone,” Eddie said. “It was awful being online for college and just not being social.”

Jillian, 23, is most grateful for having the opportunity to work after graduating from college in May. “So many of my friends feel the same way I do and that we were thrilled that it has opened up enough for us to work,” Jillian said. “I know it’s easy to get a job right now, but I didn’t know how difficult it would be to find something in my chosen profession. But I had the opportunity right out of school to land a job in my field.

“I never talked about it, but I was so concerned with the pandemic that I would be able to land anything that I hoped to do since it shortened my last internship.”

Since Jillian is a music publicist, it helped that recording artists can tour again.

That takes me to what I’m thankful for, which is an exciting, burgeoning music scene. There are rumors that there will be a 3,000-capacity general admission venue in town, which would fill a huge void. That would help build that necessary bridge from Seattle to Minneapolis for recording artists. When I arrived in Spokane 20 months ago, I met some 20-somethings who lamented that there wasn’t enough to do in town, but much is changing for the better.

Spokane is flourishing. Some cool films have been shot here, and the word is that a film studio might be in our future. I’m also thankful for what can be dubbed as a silver lining of the pandemic, which is less traffic. More folks are working from home and the roads are less congested, and, most significant, there is less pollution.

As someone who has a tendency to run late for meetings, well, everyone, I love that the roads are wide open. The only negative is that I can’t use the excuse of traffic for the reason I’m behind schedule. So be thankful Thursday that you are alive, healthy and can live your life in a city that is clearly ascending.

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