On Being Thankful

As I was walking my dog (Wally) this morning, shuffling through the leaves on the road and enjoying the bright blue sunshine, I was thinking about how this Thanksgiving will be unlike any we’ve ever experienced. I love Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays and through the years, our home has become the central gathering place for lots of family. Not this year. This year, family is spread across the state and the country, and we’ll zoom together over the weekend to accommodate everyone’s meals & time zones. It will be a quieter, smaller, more solemn day. I think this will be repeated across the nation – that is, if we’re heeding healthcare best practices – and perhaps many will have to dig a little deeper this year to find what we’re thankful for. These are difficult days for so many – those who have lost loved ones and will have empty seats at their Thanksgiving tables, our frontline workers caring for patients and worried for themselves and their families, those who have lost jobs, businesses and homes, those who are lonely and weary, and those who are sick, fighting this awful disease.

I know many people who have a daily practice of gratitude – they articulate each day something for which they’re grateful – and it helps them frame their outlook and perspective for the day. We often share what we’re grateful for at the Thanksgiving table, and I’ll share with you what I’m going to say. This year, especially, I am grateful for my health and my family’s health. People in my family had COVID, and I’m so grateful (and relieved!) that they have recovered. I am grateful for the physical comforts in my life so that I do not worry about a roof over our heads or food on our table.  Many people who call our office for help are not as fortunate to have this kind of stability in their lives. I am grateful for friends and family who look out for one another and check in during these dark days. I’m incredibly grateful to have my parents and in-laws in good health and for my immediate family: Jeff, Jonathan & Rachel & Rose. We also look forward to celebrating the official addition of Rose to our family in 2021. And, I’m grateful to be in elected office to serve the people of my district and the state, and to have a wonderful staff that works incredibly hard, doing our best to help constituents through these difficult times. Finally, I am grateful to the millions of volunteers and voters who took action leading up to the election and on Election Day and voted for change, and while there remains much to be concerned about, I am looking forward to the afternoon of January 20th!

On Being Safe

Beyond craving turkey, mashed potatoes and apple pie this year – many of us are longing to gather and connect with our families. Please stay vigilant, protecting ourselves and our loved ones as we enter the 21st consecutive day of 1,000 or more new cases of COVID-19 being reported across the state.

Let’s all do our part to stop the spread by following the CDC guidelines and keep our families, friends, and community safe.

·      Avoid traveling and gathering indoors – particularly with groups of 10 or more or anyone who doesn’t already live with you

·      Wear a mask (fitted correctly – make sure it covers your mouth and nose completely, double layer is even better)

·      Stay at least 6 feet apart

·      Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face

·      Keep hand sanitizer handy when soap and water aren’t close by

·      Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces

Testing is only a snapshot in time and a precautionary measure that must be used to inform your decisions in junction with the precautions stated above. If you want to be tested, you can schedule an appointment for a free COVID-19 test at a location near you.

[1] Baltimore Sun 11/24

[1] Kamidi, Sanya. “Graphic of COVID 19 in MD.” Data Analysis: Maryland’s Fall Coronavirus Wave Has Rapidly Eclipsed Previous Surges. Now at Least 1 in 33 Residents Has Had COVID-19, The Baltimore Sun, 24 Nov. 2020, www.baltimoresun.com/coronavirus/bs-md-nov-data-analysis-20201124-mqw7i4sdvfghddeoj3xjcdw2ci-htmlstory.html?fbclid=IwAR15Ok3UN2Ln46n23UF98U4G77maZmAsEuuu-bNTmTRfSO45nh1W8VGFxX0.

Resources & Support

For anyone struggling with hardships related to the ongoing pandemic, please check the Baltimore County Resource Guide and this Financial Relief Guide for a comprehensive list of local information. Baltimore County residents can call 410-887-3816 for help or 211 to access statewide support. The Office of the People’s Council also offers tips on avoiding scams, utility clinics, and resources for those facing homelessness. Please contact my office if we may offer any additional support during this challenging time.

Here’s something we HOPE will spread…TREES!

Join Baltimore County’s Reforestation and Free Tree Planting Program by applying now for trees to be planted next spring at no cost through the County’s Backyard Trees or Turf to Trees programs. Plantings range from a small stand of twenty trees on a tenth of an acre, up to a large multi-acre reforestation. Click here for more information.

If you have a chance, please drop me a note and let me know how you’re celebrating this holiday & what you’re grateful for. Wishing you & yours a wonderful, safe, healthy & peaceful Thanksgiving.

Shelly Hettleman

Senator, District 11