U.S. Highway 280 was deserted Thursday afternoon. And despite what the social media pictures of crowded airports might have you think, air travel was far below its usual Thanksgiving frenzy — a little over half a million travelers passed through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints Thursday, compared with 1.6 million Thanksgiving 2019, according to TSA data.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) urged Americans not to travel or gather with other households this Thanksgiving amid rising COVID-19 cases. Indeed, Tallapoosa County has already exceeded its April peak in the average number of new cases reported daily.

Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays celebrated by nearly every American, regardless of religious beliefs — also the first holiday of its kind we’ve had to forgo during the pandemic. And yet, many have shown they were able to make do or do without.

New traditions were also made. Unable to visit family out-of-state this Thanksgiving, Eclectic resident Tony O’Hare looked up volunteer opportunities instead and ended up carving turkey at Benjamin Russell for needy families and essential workers on duty during the holiday. Alexander City counselor Dr. Christi Jones substituted her usual extended family gathering for a Zoom one, urging her clients to do the same. According to one employee at Catherine’s Market, large turkey sales were down this year whereas small turkey sales were up — a pretty good proxy for the extent to which locals heeded the CDC’s guidance.  

Americans deserve praise for making the sacrifices they did on Thanksgiving — such positive reinforcement is the only way we can keep it up through Christmas.