Covid-the-curse of 2020 may soon be one for the history books as more meds are created to slow the pandemic down and maybe even bring it to a halt. In the meantime, the battle rages about whether to mask or not, gather or not, be vaccinated or not.
It appears abundantly clear that masks do work, social distancing does work, and vaccines can get us back to what passes for normal. Are there risks? Perhaps. One thing we know is that the pandemic has killed more than 1.5 million people worldwide and left many survivors with lingering symptoms. The good news is that 97 percent of affected patients did survive.
For me, 2020 can be distilled down to things more personal. Our best friends died in a horrific accident in February; my son went through multiple health problems and continues to struggle; my husband fell at the end of June and broke his right femur, had surgery, and ended up in rehab for three months. He’s home now but needs in-home care. Mentally he’s 100 percent; physically he fights the good fight… with help. I developed chronic back pain, which is proving to be harder to get rid of than I’d hoped.
This is not the great whine, the 2020 Vander Meer pity party; this is the reality we’re living with. You have your reality: sickness, loss of a loved one – perhaps because of Covid, but likely from some other illness or circumstance; your plans have been harpooned because of the pandemic, moments lost forever, never to be regained. The political absurdities of 2020 I will leave for someone else to talk about, as well as racial inequality, which is a systemic barbed wire woven into the fabric of – not just our nation – but the world.
So, where is hope? It is found in every dollar given to feed the hungry. It is every first responder, nurse, doctor, and health care worker logging hours of overtime (for which they will never get adequately compensated). It is in all the agencies finding help for the homeless and in every person who puts on a mask to protect those he or she may encounter. It is the scientists working on a cure. It’s in the phone call you make to check on a loved one… Hope is everywhere and bolsters us now when we need it most.
The holidays are upon us, and by all accounts, there will be less giving in the gifting sense, but there will be lots of sharing. We have found within ourselves – it would seem – wellsprings of generosity and kindness. Perhaps by entering 2021 with a spirit of hope, we will find in others that something special that sets them apart, and help them celebrate that.
There is a public announcement, I think it originates in Albuquerque, but I’m not sure, that asks everyone to look within themselves and find their unique gift or skill and find ways to put it to work. Giving isn’t just about dollars donated; it’s also about how you engage with your community, following safety protocols, of course. We all have something to give. We can all point to people in our town who have made a difference, whether it’s collecting food for distribution or making masks back when there was a huge shortage. Giving and helping and reaching out are not activities limited to times of trial. My particular local heroes are the visionaries who are working on the natural waterway that runs through the heart of Las Vegas and creating a beautiful Gallinas River Park along the route. While the heavy-duty work is paid for by grants, a lot of volunteers are showing up to help when and where they can.
We have lots of reasons to be hopeful about the future. This year has been a test, but it has not broken our spirits. If anything, it has given us reasons to look around and appreciate living in our small town. It’s not perfect, but nothing is.
There will be less spending this year, so the talking heads say, but may I suggest that whatever you spend this year, try your very best to spend it at a local business. We need them to be strong and able to weather this financial storm. They are braver than any superhero and made of stouter stuff than you can imagine. Let them know you appreciate them. Spend your shopping dollars in Las Vegas in small businesses. Find out more about hometown merchants at the Las Vegas First Business Alliance website lasvegasfirst.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a blessed and beautiful Christmas and look to the New Year with hope in your heart.
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