Arlene Violet: 'Tis the season to remember gifts

By Arlene Violet
Posted 12/24/20

December is a time of celebration whether our cultural heritage has us rejoicing in Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. Each uses light as a reminder of those, past and present, who have enriched our …

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Arlene Violet: 'Tis the season to remember gifts


December is a time of celebration whether our cultural heritage has us rejoicing in Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. Each uses light as a reminder of those, past and present, who have enriched our lives. Usually, our thoughts easily turn to immediate friends and family, but while 2020 may have been a tough year, it should teach us to acknowledge the presents bestowed on us by perfect strangers. So here is a thank you card for the many who, though nameless, have enriched humanity this year.

First responders: Although you will think that you were just doing your job, you are heroes. Certainly, this description encompasses the doctors, PA’s, nurses, and aides who risked their lives. It also extends to the janitors and cleaning personnel in the hospitals, nursing homes and congregate settings. A tip of the hat also to the able administrators who struggled to protect those in their care.

Police, firefighters, teachers, and state or municipal workers: What would we have done without you? You were out there trying to do your level best. Thank you also to the General State Officers and staff and councils, school committees, legislators, and all who maneuvered through an extremely difficult time in our history. Well done! We didn’t expect you to be perfect because, after all, perfection is the enemy of the good.

Regular workers: Thank you for showing up to your job. We know it wasn’t because of the big bucks you were making. You were out there delivering food, medicine, mail, or packages, or checking us out of the markets. Waitstaff and cooks, take a bow as well. I’m sure it seemed like hand to hand combat some days but you are true warriors.

Small business owners: Whether the business was day care, gyms, restaurants or the store or salon in town, heartfelt gratitude for your presence which was our presents. You made it possible for us to go to work, stay in shape, have a respite or to begift our loved ones. You kept alive the spirit of community and there isn’t much of any gift to society better than that! 
 Surely, there are others who belong on this list. Hopefully, this column will be a reminder to thank them for the quiet heroism they also showed. Despite the hard year with the plague of COVID-19 and/or the fracturing partisanship during this election year, it was the common folk who set the example of what it means to be truly the United States.

There certainly will be struggles ahead. National leadership must play a huge role in uniting the country by treating everyone fairly, particularly when it comes to vaccinations. It was hopeful to see Congress, at least, move toward a relief package for the unemployed, small businesses, and schools, and a support system to administer the vaccine. Skepticism should yield to well-founded science so herd immunity can protect the citizenry.

So, as the above holidays come and go in 2020 may the spirit of light and good will which each engenders govern our steps. The reality is that we have received copious gifts this year from many unselfish sources. A good way to thank them is to emulate their example. Let that be our first step.

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.