The tastes and smells of this time of Thanksgiving are captivating, and this year it means just a little bit more to so many of us here in the High Country.
Last year at this time many of us were preparing for holidays with far fewer people at our tables. We were trying to recreate family and friendship where and how we could find it, as we prioritized the health and safety of those near and dear to us. There was no vaccine. We were still social distancing. Times were different. That was only 365 days ago.
Flash forward to today, the eve of Thanksgiving. While our holiday gatherings may not be to full capacity just yet, we are making progress. We have benefited from a community-wide prioritization of safe and responsible actions, allowing us to again embrace fellowship and fill our homes familiar faces, voices, laughter, and hope. One day soon, the bulk of this COVID-experience will become a story we tell at these events rather than an experience we actively live. We are a stronger community today because of what we have experienced together.
I remain thankful for a community that continues to be supportive of one another during such unique times. As COVID-19’s impact was first gripping the High Country in the spring of 2020, we clung to the idea that “When times get tough, the people of the High Country unite.” I am thankful for a community that prioritized impacts that we could see and feel locally – the power of a local purchase, the taste of locally sourced food, the satisfaction of knowing that your actions can impact your neighbors.
Former President John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not that the journey be easy; ask instead that it be worth it.” As a community, over the last two years we have changed, adapted, reinvented, created, and persevered to get to this point. Thinking about the needs of an entire community, rather than just individual interests, has helped businesses survive, families reunite, and has positively shown the character of what so many people love about our special place in this world. If there is anything that comes from our recent experience, it is the understanding that we can be innovative. We can modernize our methods and actions while also preserving and protecting our High Country way of living. We can do so many things when we do them together, with the intent of helping our community be healthy and strong as we prepare for what comes next.
During his recent visit to Boone, Tom Barkin, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, described our area as a “winning community.” When expanding deeper on this point, he said that what we may often see as challenges and inconveniences are signs of a community that is thriving and in-demand. While many sectors of our economy have thrived in-spite of COVID-19, many communities, some not all that far from here, are not able to say the same. I am thankful for the local leaders that have guided our community through difficult decisions and challenges that helped #KeepBooneHealthy.
The personalities and perseverance of those that embody all that is wonderful and unique about the High Country have provided the strength to get us where we are today. I am thankful for people like the Dakotas at Local Lion, who meet each day with a cheerful greeting along with that much needed cup of joe. I am thankful for our local non-profit business community for providing a safety net and much needed support for so many that have been pushed to the edge by the physical, mental, and financial realities of this pandemic-influenced world. I am thankful for the customers who practiced patience, took an extra step to prioritize a local purchase, and showed heart-felt support for a workforce that is still adapting all to new methods of interaction, product sourcing, and customer service.
On behalf of our entire staff, we are thankful for you, the members of the High Country community. You have kept us focused and working with purpose. You have inspired us with your fresh ideas, innovative spirit, and the spirit of kindness you show all who come in contact with our community.
Please take some time this weekend to reflect on what makes you thankful to have experienced these last couple of years in THIS community. Think about the ideals and issues in your life that can be advanced by positive interaction and togetherness.
We have come so far, and we still have a long way to go to achieve our “now normal.” Please know that our team remains committed to helping our community through times good and bad as we strive to be the best version of ourselves we can be.
Boone Area Chamber of Commerce