By Toni G. Atkins
Thanks! That is a word that is increasingly in our minds and hearts when November rolls around.
While the upcoming holiday season will be different than usual—as everything in 2020 has been—there are many things that will stay the same, including the gratitude we feel for the blessings in our lives, blessings that shine through even in tough times.
I know I am grateful for the privilege of serving some of the finest communities in the world in the 39th Senate District—and I’m grateful to serve a region whose agricultural bounty helps grace the nation’s Thanksgiving tables with crops valued at almost half a billion dollars—and that’s just considering our avocados, citrus, vegetables and vine crops and fruit trees.
I am grateful for the first responders, medical professionals, teachers, grocery and pharmacy workers, and small businesses who have been working so hard to keep us safe and providing as much “normalcy” as possible during this pandemic.
I am grateful for the opportunity I recently had with my colleagues, Assembly member Todd Gloria and Congress member Scott Peters, to hand out 2,500 boxes of fresh food provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture for families in need. And I’m grateful for California’s Office of Emergency Services for introducing me to COPE Preparedness, so that we could facilitate the distribution of donated masks and hand sanitizer along with the food, as well as with accurate public health information in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
I am also grateful for the hard-working members of my staff here in San Diego who, in addition to their regular workload, helped with that event and have successfully aided more than a thousand constituents navigate issues involving the Employment Development Department and other agencies during this pandemic. Our goal is to keep advocating for solutions that will make it unnecessary for folks to go outside of these agencies for assistance, but we remain here to help as well.
I am eternally grateful for the love and support of my spouse Jennifer and our friends and family, including the two furry members of our household, who are generally adorable, and only occasionally divas when yet another Zoom meeting comes along to delay their walk or snack needs.
Of course, while having “thanks” in our minds and hearts is terrific this time of year, it’s even better when we have “thanks” on our lips and in our wallets as well. So I hope we can all go out of our way to say thank you to all those who provide the blessings in our lives, and that we can express our gratitude by shopping small businesses and supporting local restaurants for take-out meals to make the holidays special. Filling the shelves at our local food banks and shelters. Maybe even changing the life of a senior pet and bringing them to their new forever home for the holidays. There are so many ways we are blessed. And so many ways we can help bless others.
Wishing you and your loved ones all the best as the holiday season ramps up!
— Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: www.Senate.ca.gov/Atkins