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Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year

This has been a difficult year for so many. Christmas and Kwanza may have been celebrated alone or by a zoom call and New Year’s Eve will be a solitary time for many.

We all want 2020 to end as quickly as possible. So many lost loved ones and found themselves in situations they never thought they would see. Families with mothers and/or fathers or both who lost jobs and are now losing their homes and lining up at food banks. There are those like me who found themselves eating nearly every meal alone for nearly ten months.

Yet some did find things to be thankful for. Children were born and some people found new jobs and found their savings and 401(k) go up. I know many who also found the rewards of sharing their good fortune with others. There is the saying ‘it is better to give than to receive’ and many found how true that is during this pandemic year. Whether it was checking up on an elderly neighbor and offering to shop for them, donating to a food bank, or offering someone without shelter a home. Donating a Christmas or Kwanzaa gift to ‘Toy’s for Tots’; no matter how big or small the act of kindness it means something to others and makes you feel good.

As we near the end of 2020 and finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, the vaccine, to end this pandemic we must make a broader commitment as a society. As the economies of the world open up and borders reopen, we must commit to never letting anyone fall through the cracks. We will never be fully back unless everyone is back. We must do everything we can to rebuild the lives of those who lost the most and ensure they can once again fully participate in our society. We must ensure them jobs and homes and an equal opportunity to support themselves and their families.

We must also never forget those who were lost to the pandemic. We must remember them as we learn from the mistakes that were made to prepare for what comes next and we know there will be a next. We must learn through science we can make a difference but also through compassion and leadership. We must never again elect leaders who show distain for people by pretending things are OK when they are not.

2021 can be a year of recovery and learning. When enough people are vaccinated we can get our children back in school and try to make up for the year they missed. We can fund programs to help do that. We must make our states and cities whole through federal funding so they don’t have to lay off teachers and nurses and other first responders. We do that by making sure people understand it is only the federal government that can have a deficit budget and remind them our founding fathers understood that.

We must make the changes needed to move toward equal justice and equal opportunity for all. I look forward to Noon on January 20, 2021 when the nation can begin to make progress and ‘Build back better’.