Stefan Modrich


As someone who has oscillated between a pessimist and an optimist over the years, I find myself obligated to express my gratitude for just how many things I am fortunate to have going my way in this life.

I am gainfully employed, doing work I enjoy and appreciate, and receiving unprompted and unexpected notes of goodwill and thanks from people in the community. I am also grateful for constructive feedback and continuing to learn to improve as a writer, a reporter, and a person as I continue to cover a community that has gratefully welcomed me here.

I was actually able to celebrate the holiday with my family in Chicago instead of waiting for agate to refresh and be flowed into a standings and transactions page in a lonely and quiet office. That’s how I spent Thanksgiving at my previous job as a sportswriter in the Rio Grande Valley.

I’m thankful I was able to drive through the Minute Maid Park parking lot in less than 30 minutes through a long line of cars to receive a COVID-19 test, which gave me the confidence I needed that I would be able to travel safely to and from my destination.

I’m thankful for the airline workers, healthcare workers, first responders, and everyone who made it possible for me to scan my boarding pass with a simple tap of my watch face that made the simple gesture of retrieving my phone from my pocket seem clumsy and inefficient by comparison.

I’m thankful that my aunt who visited from Florida and the rest of my family took precautions to be mindful of my 80-year old grandmother, and that we were able to safely socialize with her after coordinating physically-distanced visits and dinner drop-offs.

I’m also grateful for friends near and far that still make the effort to check in with me. Whether I hear from them every day or once a month, there is a place for all of them, and WhatsApp, FaceTime and Zoom remain deeply in my debt for their ability to keep me connected to those whose company I would cherish, but whose virtual company I will happily take as a consolation prize.

My father, after several different stages and phases of disciplined and restrictive diets, ate meat for the first time in 15 years this Thanksgiving. We ate my sisters’ homemade pecan pie — and this perhaps best represents my evolution into a true Texan —  was shocked to find out that she and several others in my immediate family had never even tried it before. The secret was the chocolate chips — a true game-changer.

Instead of football, I told my family I wanted to watch this year’s Fort Bend Interfaith Service, which is still on YouTube and worth a watch if you haven’t already seen it.

My grandma said that this year’s Thanksgiving dinner was the best. And she is known for her hyperbole, so while I’d be inclined to take it with a grain of salt, I think the fact that she had recently experienced a hospital stay (unrelated to the coronavirus) and continues to undergo physical therapy from home might have something to do with that. It could also be that she prefers her daughter’s excellent cooking, but that’s too simple an explanation for me.

While I did miss the usual large gathering of relatives, I’m happy to know that they all did things a bit differently this year. But in the end, it was a sacrifice they were all willing to make if it meant that we can allow those who have been tasked with the thankless mission of trying to restore order and normalcy to our overall public health to do their jobs.

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