Happy Thanksgiving 2020 – Is It Over Yet?


Debra and Kevin with our dog Maggie
Debra and Kevin with our dog Maggie

Thanksgiving is usually one of the happiest days in our family. It’s a chance to get everyone together, enjoy the kids and family, and enjoy the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. It’s a time for the adults to catch up on what’s new over some wine, while the kids wreak havoc chasing the cats and dog, watching TV and playing hide-and-seek.  

This year Thanksgiving won’t be anything like past Thanksgiving. No, there will be only two of us and the list of things to be thankful for aren’t that great. I don’t know if you concur, but I just want 2020 to be over.  It’s been a hard year, with losses and grief and loneliness. Do I sound like a Debbie Downer? Sorry, but I am calling it like I see it.

On a positive note, I am thankful for all of the photoPXL readers and contributors for helping the site grow. Our readership is increasing everyday. Please let your friends know about us and spread the word. PhohotoPXL is my dream and my passion, and I am working super-hard on it. We have some cool things coming before the end of the year, so stay tuned.

Since March, like many of you we have been living in a new world, with the dark cloud of the pandemic hanging above our heads. It has affected us big-time. Towards the beginning of the pandemic we lost Debra’s dad to COVID. Then Debra became very sick, and she was in bed for weeks and took months to feel normal again. Now my son and his girlfriend have it. This COVID is the real thing. It’s not a hoax and if you know someone who has gone through it, you know it is not something you’d wish on anyone. And, a week ago we lost Debra’s uncle to a sudden illness. For our family we will have two empty chairs at our family events.

Debra's dad who has been sorely missed, a victim of COVID
Debra’s dad, Jack Fadely, who has been sorely missed, a victim of COVID
Maggie and me
Maggie and me
Ansel and I working on photoPXL
Ansel and I working on photoPXL

For the most part, Debra and I have lived in a bubble; the bubble being our house, which fortunately is not a bad place to have a bubble. I can still run the website from my home office, and we have our pets and a comfortable environment to weather out this pandemic.

We don’t let many people through the bubble — and if we do, it’s with a face mask and distancing. It’s been hard for Debra, as she doesn’t see the grandkids except for brief drop-ins. I don’t see my sons much. My oldest, Kev Jr., lives close to us now, but he’s sick. I did break out of the bubble and went to North Carolina to visit one of my other sons. 

Debra and I are planning to do this Thanksgiving with just the two of us. I am purchasing all the fixings today and look forward to an easy day at home, a good meal, and enjoying the love and friendship of my wonderful wife.

This year showed huge hope when it began. Our workshops were sold out. The new site was growing, and we had ambitious plans, and even got our big Antarctica workshop complete. Then right after Antarctica, the lockdowns began and our world changed. All my travel and workshops had to be canceled, and all our video tutorials we were going to do had to be canceled as we couldn’t put any people in the same space, much less sit next to each other. Our fine art printing workshops had to be canceled too for similar reasons. A year that was looking so promising turned very dark.

Debra on a relaxing Sunday morning. Ansel the cat and Maggie with the New York Times.
Debra on a relaxing Sunday morning. Ansel the cat and Maggie with the New York Times.

Like everyone, we had to adapt and make the most of things. We learned to Zoom and share through new ways. We buckled down and tried to make the most of what we had, and cut back on many expenses. I am thankful we had enough savings to be able to live through this, but I feel so bad — especially for younger photographers who lost almost all their bookings and had no savings. 

Me on a Sunday morning, in the bubble
Me on a Sunday morning, in the bubble

And through all of this, we had a country that was being torn apart by politics. Never before have I seen people who I thought were friends unfriend each other over political beliefs. It was crazy. So much of our country started saying “you are (on this side or the other), and if you are (one of the opposing side) you aren’t my friend”.  This became very noticeable in the realm of social media.

Frankly, I tried to stay neutral and focus everything on photography, where I found for the most part it became a neutral ground and not one of political divide, except for the rare few that judged their friends on whether they were a Canon, Sony or Nikon user.

Georgia, Ansel and Jupiter. They make our isolation a. bit more fun and interesting
Georgia, Ansel and Jupiter. They make our isolation a. bit more fun and interesting
And, let’s not forget our shy kitty, Nova

I am thankful that I have had a chance to go through all my old images and revive many of them. This has been good therapy for me. I have been printing when I can, and that brings me great joy. 

Debra working on her Lego project
Debra working on her Lego project
The Gallery and Studio was completely shut down for a few months.

Debra and I have spent a lot more time together, and you know what? We still like each other. For that I am very thankful.  We have been building some cool Lego projects together. It’s a good after-dinner project. We have also found some TV shows we enjoy watching.

I am thankful we have some very cool cats in our house. Ansel, Georgia, Jupiter and Nova are the best cats you could ask for — lots of fun and laughs. We also adopted Debra’s dad’s dog after he passed, and Maggie has found her way into our hearts and lives. She is pretty special and full of love and playfulness. Plus, she has helped me to get out of the house and walk every day.

I am also thankful that a vaccine is coming. We can see light at the very far end of the tunnel, but we know we are headed in the right direction. I want get back out and photograph again. I have never had such a long period of time of no travel.  It’s time to get back out on the road. I have very cool workshops planned for next year. You can get all the information at rockhopperworkshops.com. Maybe you’ll want to join us on one of these. I am counting on the vaccines to allow us to run these workshops.

Some Final Thoughts

We have a shack in our backyard that is fixed up for entertaining and relaxing. It’s one of my favorite places to escape.

PhotoPXL and Rockhopper Workshops would not be possible without you, the reader. The outpouring of positive emails, as well as financial contributions, have been overwhelming and especially appreciated. A great big thank you for helping us make it this far, and I think you are going to like what we have planned. PhotoPXL v2 should launch before the end of the year.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to express my thanks to Chris Sanderson, Michael Durr, my wife Debra, as well as Jack Shepler of Ayokay and his team. More than anything else, thank you to all of our readers and those that have contributed financially to our success.

More importantly, a huge thanks to those that have contributed their time by sharing articles on this site, and their belief in sharing their passion for photography with others. The photographic community is a strong place, and I have always held the belief if everyone would take photographs and share in the joy we find in it, that this would be a much better world.

I aim to keep this a free site supported by advertising, workshops, and contributions from readers. Your help in this support makes me grateful.

I am very hopeful and look forward to January 2021. We get the chance to hit the reset button on so many things.  We have become smarter and wiser. I am counting on meeting up with many of you next year and beyond. 

Thank you again. Please stay safe this holiday season. After all this time, don’t give up. If we can hang on a little bit longer, we can come out of this healthy and alive. In the meantime I’ll keep posting articles and reviews (we have good stuff coming in the weeks ahead). Also, take a few hours for yourself. Get out and take some photos.

A friend of ours shared this image from our wedding in Antarctica this week. It makes us smile as few remember such a great day. Christian Fletcher our ring boy managed to drop our rings in penguin pooh. We had a good laugh. Michael Reichmann is seen in the background.
A friend of ours shared this image from our wedding in Antarctica this week. It makes us smile as we remember such a great day. Christian Fletcher our ring boy managed to drop our rings in penguin pooh. We had a good laugh. Michael Reichmann is seen in the background.

Kevin Raber
November 2020
Kevin Raber
Indianapolis, IN

Photography is my passion and has been for 50 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of picture taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can, hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through photoPXL.com, this site, as well as Rockhopper Workshops, and other projects, as well as teaching as Artist In Residence at the Indianapolis Art Center.

Article Type: News, Columns, MISC

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