This will be one of the more universally somber Thanksgivings any of us are likely to experience. After months of grueling campaigns, many Americans have never felt so at odds with each other, and the surging pandemic will keep a lot of us away from family and friends just when we need them the most.

Those who are sacrificing a full Thanksgiving in the name of public health, however, should feel secure in the knowledge they are helping to stop the spread of a virus that has killed more than a quarter million Americans, with more than a thousand more deaths coming each day.

In Maine, we are entering the holiday season having broken one new daily case record after another, with hospitalizations rising right after. Leading forecasting models say new daily cases in Maine could double to about 500 by the end of November, with hospitalizations doing the same a week later.

Despite the spreading virus, Gov. Janet Mills has declined to put any further restrictions on gatherings, only mandating that some businesses close a little earlier in the night to prevent congregating. Mills last week said Mainers should limit their holiday celebrations to immediate family, with her administration citing the spike in cases in Canada following that country’s Thanksgiving.

But that is only a request. The governor ultimately is relying on the good sense of Mainers. The anti-mask crowd has been loud here, but most Mainers have taken their civic responsibilities related to COVID-19 seriously, wearing masks and practicing physical distancing when appropriate.

However, the holidays come as many are tired of being cautious and just want the respite of a normal get-together.

So instead of dwelling on what we’ll miss in the coming weeks, let’s think of the good things that are coming. The rapid development of vaccines is an achievement in line with other historic advancements in science, and they should be ready for the public soon.

That makes it imperative that we get through the winter as a country with as little death and illness as possible. By staying home for the holidays, you are helping improve the chances that others will have many more milestones to celebrate in the years to come.

And if missing this one Thanksgiving with family is the most you have to worry about now, think of your neighbors who have much more on their minds.

Think of the 250,000 dead who won’t have another holiday. Think of the 80,000 and rising now hospitalized in the U.S. with this terrible illness.

Think of the nurses, doctors and other health care workers who are frantically trying to save lives. Think of those in service jobs who are putting themselves at risk just by going to work.

Think of the homeless and hungry.

Think of the Americans who are unemployed or who saw their businesses ruined because of the virus — and because the federal government failed to adequately respond to the virus. Think of those who watched Congress go home for the holidays without offering any of the relief they desperately need.

That’s where our thoughts should be this Thanksgiving, and going forward through the winter.


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