The past two Thanksgivings have been challenging for the Hall family.
In 2019, when I was executive editor of the Clarion Ledger, the Thursday before Thanksgiving, my then-boss called to say she was flying in to discuss a personnel matter. Since I knew we were preparing for a round of layoffs, I knew the regional boss flying in on less than a day’s notice meant the personnel matter to be discussed was me.
That Friday, she informed me that my position was being eliminated. I was allowed to stay on through the first of the year, which was nice, but it sure put a damper on Thanksgiving break.
Then came the masks, lockdowns, social distancing and virtual “learning.”
So when Thanksgiving break rolled around for my teacher wife and three children last year, we decided to hook up our camper and head into the woods. We wanted to get away.
We chose the woods because we wouldn’t be around anyone, and we couldn’t imagine the big, bad novel coronavirus bug would be lurking among the trees.
We did a little hiking. We roasted marshmallows. We threw the football around. The wife and I read. The kids biked and explored. I even found enough cell service to stream the Egg Bowl.
On that Monday, the wife started feeling bad. Exhaustion, she thought. Just worn out from the stress of the year and her body demanding rest. By that evening, she felt full-blown awful, and I had started noticing a slight scratch in my throat.
When we woke the next morning, the wife and I were the walking dead. The kids, who all felt fine, treated us like the walking dead, keeping their distance lest we turn them into zombies.
I have no idea how we broke camp, loaded up and drove home. What I do know is that by late Tuesday night we were having long swabs shoved up our noses, and the doctor was saying we tested positive for COVID-19.
For the next 12 days, the wife and I suffered what felt like the longest, worst case of the flu we have ever had. It was miserable. We were miserable.
We were also thankful. We could breathe, and no matter how bad we felt, we were healthy enough to suffer through and recover. Far too many were not so blessed.
We were thankful that our kids never showed any symptoms, unless you call stir-craziness a symptom.
We were even thankful that despite my not working for most of the year, we were able to survive.
Today, we are even more thankful. This past year has been one of bountiful blessings. Coming to the Daily Journal has been an unbelievable journey full of professional riches. Returning to Tupelo has been surreal, but in the best way.
However, it also meant a lot of trying life changes. It meant spending a lot of time away from my family. It meant all of us — my wife, children and me — leaving behind all we had known for 10 years: friends, church, schools, Scouts, the travel baseball team, colleagues and our home. And it meant starting over with all of those things here.
Yet despite it all, as we head into the holiday season, we finally feel settled. We are immensely thankful. We are happy. We are blessed.
So to celebrate, we just bought a new-to-us RV. And we’re headed into the woods for Thanksgiving!