By DAVID A. COOK
Christmas is around the corner and Hanukkah will last us through the week. It’s holiday time and they always come with mixed experiences for us all.
Normally, I’d wish you all a lovely time with your families, but as COVID-19 continues to run wild and deaths continue to mount, many of you are probably foregoing the usual family gatherings and replacing them with smaller days of celebration at home.
Maybe you’ll be using Zoom or Skype to bring your family into your home, or you’ll engage in some other kind of get-together that’s unique to the times we live in.
HOLIDAYS CONTRARY TO THE GOOD OLE’ DAYS
These 2020 holidays feel a bit different for a lot of us. The cloud of a pandemic hangs over us and the daily news can be grim. Those of us who use social media to stay connected can’t escape into that world either. You’ve probably seen for yourself the bitterness that has taken hold as political and social debates can rage between family and friends.
In short, no one blames you if this holiday season feels a little less bright than normal. You’re not alone though. A lot of us are feeling it, and we can take some comfort in knowing that we aren’t alone.
Sometimes things can feel exhausting or intimidating or deeply sad, but you are not alone. Whether it’s your family, your friends, your union, your church or your pet goldfish, you might occasionally be lonely, but you’re never alone.
RELIEF IS ON THE WAY
There is some good news out there though, and we should remember that. With any luck, a vaccine will soon be rolling out nationwide. We don’t have all the details yet, but we know it is first going to medical professionals and those in high-risk categories.
While we don’t know the specifics yet — Missouri has yet to clarify these rules — we know it’s possible that frontline workers like many of you reading this will likely be further ahead in line than John and Jane Doe working safely from home.
That alone will prove to be a much-needed relief for our partners, especially those of you caring for elderly family members or with young children. We don’t know for certain yet, but it does appear that life could very well be returning to normal in a matter of months, fingers crossed!
NEVER FORGET THE HARD WORK AND DEDICATION OF FRONTLINE WORKERS
As life begins to return to normal there will be another step we’ll have to take, and we need to take it together. As we beat back this virus and emerge from our homes to spend time together in-person with our families and friends again, we need to not allow this pandemic to simply slip from our minds. What I mean by that is: we can’t forget how we all felt about workers on the frontlines of this pandemic since Day One. I refuse to allow your employer or the general public to forget what so many of you did for your communities during this time.
Many of you working in grocery stores or pharmacies provided a much-needed service to your communities. In the early days of COVID-19 last spring, there was a little bit of panic. At the very least, tensions were high. I’m sure many of you experienced rushes in your stores as customers flooded in to purchase “lockdown supplies” — the famous run on toilet paper will go down as one of 2020’s quirkiest moments — and other essential items. Imagine for a moment how much people would have panicked if their local grocery stores simply shut down. Imagine the fear they would have felt if they didn’t have workers like you in those stores stocking, scanning, prepping, checking, and more.
A wise man once said that people truly panic when the things they completely take for granted stop working. You helped prevent that kind of panic and for that everyone should be grateful.
REMEMBERING MANAGEMENT WHILE MANAGEMENT REMEMBERS US
I will make sure your employers remember this the next time we sit across the bargaining table, and I won’t stop pushing for hazard pay for all of my partners during this pandemic. When the time comes that frontline workers need us — whether it’s in the form of higher wages and better benefits or public support during an organizing campaign — I promise to do everything in my power to rally the public to support you.
Finally, we should remember how people behaved during this time. Not just individual customers, whether they were patient and kind or loud and ignorant. I’m talking about individuals and organizations with power.
While no employer was perfect during this crisis, let’s remember that some chose to act decisively and genuinely did their best, while others were neglectful and cruel. Let’s remember which of our leaders — whether they were local politicians or the President of the United States — actually fought for people during this time, and which of them fought only for themselves.
Let’s remember which people in our lives were there for us with a kind word or gesture. Let’s remember that as hard as this past year has been, there has been some genuinely good moments as well.
IT’S DIFFERENT BUT THE WELL-WISHES REMAIN THE SAME
It’s the holiday season. The 2020 holidays might feel different, but they are still here. I hope these holidays find you happy and healthy. I wish you nothing but good things to come. From my family to yours: have a wonderful holiday.