Thanksgiving this year will be like no other we've ever had and hopefully will never have again. Still, there are always things to be thankful for and, despite all the pain and heartache we've gone through as a nation this year, it's time to focus on the good things in our lives.
I am thankful for my family, as always. I've prayed since day one of the coronavirus pandemic that God would protect all of us from this awful disease. And while one member of my family came down with COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago, it didn't seem to have a serious effect on him and as of today, he's the only family member that has been infected.
I am thankful for our members of society that have chosen to social distance and wear masks.
They get it and, while others have chosen to ignore the mask mandates that have been in effect, I can still say I love you and will continue to pray for you.
I am thankful for the close friends I have lost to the coronavirus. People like the great Catherine Neely, the legendary coach whose brilliant career has been highlighted in no less than eight halls of fame. She was my friend for more than 45 years and I will never forget her and what she meant to so many people.
I am thankful for one of my early sports heroes, Terry Compton, the "Long Rifle" from Horse Cave, Kentucky who was a two time All-SEC performer at Vanderbilt and who lost his battle with COVID-19 a few days ago.
I am also thankful for all the other friends and acquaintances who have also fought against COVID, some winning and some losing.
I am thankful for the news of vaccines to help prevent the spread of this disease and now all we need is a plan in place to distribute these vaccines to the public as soon and as quickly as possible.
I am thankful for the spirit of some of my fellow Americans who have successfully participated in sports this year, giving us all something to watch, even though it's been something that's been hard to really get into.
I am thankful for the youth sports leagues that resumed play safely back in May. They did it the right way and they stressed social distancing and mask wearing from day one.
I am thankful for the passion shown by Tennessee football fans though I still regret the way they go after coaches.
I am thankful for the upcoming college basketball season, although with early cancellations and the fact that Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes and Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer each have COVID, it is going to be a much different season than we're used to seeing.
I am thankful for the sports teams at UTC. Only one football game played this fall, with the promise of a conference only schedule for this coming spring.
I am thankful that most high school football teams were able to get in most of their games this fall and I congratulate the ones still playing on Thanksgiving weekend.
I am thankful for the many not for profit companies that are feeding the hungry in the middle of this pandemic as well as several of the for profit companies who are also providing for those in need.
I am thankful for the churches who are struggling to keep their doors open during this time, yet are providing spiritual strength to those who are suffering.
I am thankful for the doctors, nurses, lab techs and other medical personnel as well as first responders who have sacrificed so much and have worked so hard to save lives.
I am thankful for those who have already put up their Christmas decorations, some of them went up before Halloween. We all needed something positive after all we've been through and the Christmas spirit is perhaps the most positive thing I could ever imagine.
Finally, I am thankful to live in the greatest country in the world. It was great long before the 2016 election and will continue to be great for many years to come.
God bless us all, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com