December is a time for celebrations—and love, light, and the fellowship of family and friends. There is so much to be thankful for and excited about this year, even with the challenges we continue to face and with new ones that have arisen and require our attention as well. This December I can’t help thinking about celebrating Christmas as a little girl – my twin sister and I sharing time with our older brothers and our parents, the special foods like candy canes and the tangerines that were such a rarity in Southwestern Virginia. I can only imagine how exhausted my parents must have been with all the holiday preparations on top of their daily responsibilities. I think a lot of us may be there right now…
On top of the gifts that I would wish for everybody–peace, health, and happiness–there are a couple I would also give to all of us, if I could. One is certainty. It would be so nice to be able to say the dangers of the COVID-19 virus will end on 12:01 on January 1, 2022, or when the “X millionth” Californian is vaccinated. But we can’t do that. It wouldn’t be prudent and it wouldn’t be safe. We have to keep raising our vaccination rate and taking the necessary precautions until the science makes the coast clear. So, another gift I would wish for us all is patience—especially with each other, as we press forward to protect the public health and return fully to public life. We will beat the pandemic. Goods will flow. Perseverance and patience will help get us through. Often easier said than done, I know, but an important reminder for our times.
I know one gift many families are grateful for this year is the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for their children. That means peace of mind at home, greater participation in school and sports, and safer family holiday gatherings—especially when the celebrations include visits with grandma and grandpa.
With 2021 coming to a close, I can’t help thinking about all that’s happened this year. I have shared in the previous editions of this newsletter some of the amazing work we did in the California Legislature in 2021, both in terms of legislation and budget investments. On housing and homelessness, on climate change and criminal justice reform, on higher education and health care — 2021 will be remembered as a year of historic action and transformative change, and I feel blessed that I was able to be involved in these efforts.
We know there is more to be done, and we have been getting prepared for the new legislative session that starts in January. A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of giving a “sneak peek” about what’s ahead to the bridge-building leadership organization California Forward. While I do want to save some surprises for the new year, a couple of the things I highlighted are the projections that show we should have another very good year for making smart investments, and the Senate’s new proposal to help first-time homebuyers purchase homes with silent investors. Families get to buy a home, grab a foothold in the middle class, and help build wealth for their future generations. Investors get safe, tax-free opportunities to invest in California real estate. It’s a big move, with lots of potential, and you’ll be hearing more from me as we develop the plan further. But I’m very excited and wanted to share it with you now—kind of like the one gift I get to open early.
As tired as we all are and as long as this pandemic has gone on, I hope we can all keep smiling and join in all the festivities this time of year. Whether it’s Christmas or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or New Year’s Eve or Festivus, Jennifer and I hope all your celebrations are filled with love, light, and magic. And we wish you a very happy and healthy 2022!