Thanksgiving 2020


Finding thankfulness when our world has been turned upside down by a global pandemic.

’Cause you know what’s in my head

“F — -ed up” is an understatement

Can’t wait for this year to end

- Mike Shinoda

If everything had gone as planned this year, my wife and I would be making our final preparations for a trip that was going to knock a couple of items off of my bucket list. Last year we had purchased tickets to see the band Nightwish in London on December 18. Not only would this have allowed me to see my favorite new band put on their full arena show, but it also gave me an excuse to make my first trip outside of North America. We also planned to visit Disneyland Paris as part of the trip.

This was the year that nothing went as planned and a canceled trip to Europe is the least of the problems that have been faced this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned everything on its head from the way our children receive their education to the way consumers interact with the marketplace. Millions are unemployed and extended aid is set to expire at the end of the year. Over 265,986 people have already died as the virus begins a new surge.

Thanksgiving is the latest victim of 2020. Our family’s annual tradition of feasting at my mom’s house has been canceled in the name of safety. We had originally hoped to have a socially-distanced gathering in our backyard, but the latest surge has made that impossible. Instead, my immediate household will spend the day together, celebrating being together and giving thanks.

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

What am I thankful for as the world seems to fall apart around us? Most importantly, I am grateful that so far my family has been fortunate enough to avoid a visit from the virus. While we may not get to spend this holiday together, at least we are all still here so that we can celebrate together in the future.

It is also reassuring to know that our extended family will actually miss spending time together this year. For many, the holidays are a chore that must be tolerated. Like all families, we have had our share of drama over the years, but we still enjoy each other’s company.

While I will be missing my mom and sister this Thanksgiving, at least I will be spending the day with four of my five children. Add in my son’s girlfriend, who has become a part of the family during the last year, and we really have a full house. My oldest child will be missing from the table as she now lives in Washington. She is a strong, young woman who proposed to her boyfriend this year, so before too long our family will get even bigger. Life is good even if the world is falling apart.

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Before the pandemic

Even as my wife, Nicole, has dealt with the added stress of her increased COVID risk because of her health status, she has still managed to hold this whole crazy household together. We met when I was in one of the darkest points in my life and she showed me almost immediately what a special person she is. Ever since then, she has been my biggest cheerleader, my sounding board, and the person who keeps me from getting in trouble. I am a lucky man to have her by my side and I will always be thankful.

When the world’s on fire, all I need is you

I don’t always think to say it, but it’s true

When I just wanna disappear

You’re the one who keeps me here

The world’s on fire, all I need is you

- Mike Shinoda


Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD’s CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” For links to his blogs, please visit Opinions are his own.

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Parent, special education advocate and former LAUSD School Board candidate. Still fighting for the children.

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