Whether we realize it or not, the holiday season in this most strange year of 2020 is upon us. No matter anyone’s opinion on the contentious presidential election, the continuing challenges brought about by COVID, or the myriad other challenges before us this year, we now face the reality of holiday seasons.
This Saturday, Wisconsin woods will be lit in a flurry of blaze orange as the gun deer season opens. Each November, more than 500,000 hunters seek the elusive turdy-point buck of legend. I have shared the now-fond—not so fond then—memories of how the large groups of uncles and cousins and I would hit the woods in western Bayfield County each Thanksgiving week during my youth, arising in the pitch black pre-dawn hours in order to be in place at first light. I was fortunate to spend a few now-precious years as an adult in those very woods with my father and brother upon my return to Wisconsin. It was a novel a deer hunting experience to hit the woods at hours much more convenient.
Success was sporadic, as some of those ventures didn’t encompass much of the season. The chance to spend time with family members, walking the woods in an attempted silence while maintaining vigilance, and the adrenaline rush when you heard a sound, or caught a flash of a white tail are memories we forever cherish. The crispness of the late autumn air, the stillness, and complete quiet of sitting alone can be times to remember.
The decline in the number of generational hunters has been well documented, as populations spread, and fewer families stay in rural areas. Even with the decline, the opening of the nine-day gun deer season remains an important day in Wisconsin, as with many other states. Hunting has changed in some ways, with the prevalence of ATVs, GPS units, and cell phones all making communication and travel easier. You start to feel sort of curmudgeonly if you describe having to walk a mile, uphill both ways in deep snow.
It is among these weeks, and those times upon which we can draw a sense of thankfulness for how we have each been blessed in our lives. For some, it may be more apparent than others, but we all have aspects of our lives in which we can find thankfulness.
For many, it may be the gifts of friendship and family, stability of home or employment, living out faith and steeled in their resolve, or a myriad of other traits and gifts of which we all may partake. We can try to find the joy in the simple things in life, whether they be a kind word from a stranger, an unexpected gift of assistance, or an old friend reaching out.
We’ve all heard the phrase “uncharted waters” just a bit too much this year. Not knowing what tomorrow, the next week, or the next months will bring has been a tremendous source of angst and consternation among us all. The rancor and discord that often separates people based on their political beliefs or ideology has been another source of struggle.
For millions of Americans this year, the Thanksgiving holiday will be somewhat different. It’s very likely it won’t involve as many large gatherings of family and friends, due to concerns or precautions regarding COVID. I would suspect most Americans can think for themselves, understand the challenges, and act accordingly.
Unless, of course, you live in California. An Oct. 22 Newsweek story outlined some of the guidelines for Thanksgiving festivities taking place in the Golden state this next week, including “all gatherings must include no more than three households, including hosts and guests, and must be held outdoors, lasting for two hours of less.” It spared no detail, also stating “singing, chanting and shouting are strongly discouraged” because they “pose a very high risk of COVID-19 transmission.” Alas, arguing over the wishbone is prohibited, and no family spats over the holidays in California, as shouting is discouraged. I wonder if California Gov. Gavin Newsome understands it is late November, and much of northern California or areas of elevation do experience colder weather.
Californian restrictions aside, I hope you are able to find a measure of joy and thankfulness this next week, as we begin the holiday season in earnest. Good luck to the hunters, may you be safe and prudent in your endeavors, and wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving season.
Scott Frostman lives in Baraboo, and has roots throughout Wisconsin. He currently serves as the chairman of the Republican Party of Sauk County. Opinions herein are exclusively his own and not those of the Republican parties of Wisconsin or Sauk County. He believes anyone can make a difference and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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