Thumbs down to missing Thanksgiving with our extended families and friends. There's no way around it — it's just a bummer. On top of a year that has brought bummer after bummer. Just because we know it's the right thing to do, doesn't mean we have to like it. Thanksgiving was weird, and the holiday season is only going to get weirder. While we forego social activities and traditions that are usually bright spots of a given year, it can take a toll on our mental health. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike on Tuesday urged anyone who may be experiencing depression or mental health struggles to use the state's free emotional support text line. To contact a professional, text "talk" to 552020, or "hablar" en Español.
Thumbs up to everyone who decided to stay home for Thanksgiving this year. Stories, columns and editorials in this newspaper the last few weeks have included pleas from government leaders, hospital staff and your neighbors to forego the traditional big Thanksgiving get-together this year as COVID-19 cases spike in the region, the state and the nation. To those of you who made the difficult choice to stay away from family and friends outside of your household this holiday, thank you. Your sacrifice wasn't easy. But you did the right thing.
Thumbs up to the volunteers and city leaders around the region who are trying to spread holiday cheer in this most unusual year. We've all been enduring months of cancellations, postponements and disappointments (see above). Despite the cancellation of many winter holiday events, including Carbondale's annual Lights Fantastic Parade — one of the few occasions that warrants shutting down U.S. 51 — there are many people in our communities who are working to dress up Main Streets and major thoroughfares to ring in the holiday season. Herrin's Hometown Christmas kicks off today with decorations inspired by the past. Carbondale will display Lights Fantastic floats in the Washington Street outdoor music venue. Remember when we were all putting stuffed bears in our windows at the beginning of the pandemic? Not only are these events capturing the spirit of the season, they're calling back to the early days of our current crisis, when there was a little more goodwill being spread among neighbors.
Thumbs up to the restoration of the Buckminster Fuller "Dome Home" in Carbondale. The nonprofit group working to restore the home to its glory when Fuller lived here recently completed Phase 2 of the project, which focused on sprucing up the interior. The group put up new interior walls and trim, upgraded the electrical system, installed a new heating and air conditioning system, and restored the kitchen and interior closets. Up next for the project: adding a museum video display and modern security system, filling the bookshelves with volumes from Fuller's library, replacing the original redwood fence around the home, and doing some other exterior improvements. Cary O'Dell, who co-authored a book about the restoration, told Gary Gibula for The Southern: "Seldom, if ever, are there homes that are such an extraordinary reflection of a man's philosophy. The Bucky dome is."
Thumbs up to Southern Illinois University junior Marianne Haines, who won $75,000 in scholarship money through a Dr. Pepper-sponsored competition. Haines is one of six finalists for the $125,000 prize. She and the other finalists went to Texas earlier this month to throw as many footballs as they could into an oversized Dr. Pepper can in 30 seconds (on a closed set, due to the pandemic). Three of the finalists won the $125K, while the others walked away with $75K. We'll find out who won on Dec. 19, when the competition will air on either ABC or ESPN during the Pac-12 or Big Ten Conference football championship games (details haven't been announced yet). Haines told The Southern's Todd Hefferman she wants to become a physician's assistant and focus on helping Spanish-speakers and those who communicate using American Sign Language.