Last Monday marked the winter solstice in Maine — the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Every day that follows from now on we slowly regain light until the seasons change.
These are also however the darkest days of the pandemic in Maine.
We approach the holiday weekend and New Years with joy, hope, humility and trepidation.
Hello this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
The arrival of some vaccines brought us desperately needed hope this month – our first rays of sun signaling a new day. But until everyone eligible has been vaccinated, we have to keep taking precautions to keep our communities and our healthcare workers safe.
The darkness of this pandemic is with us unabated. Its cure is a long way away, meanwhile we have a duty to protect each other.
There are so many things we take for granted.
We assume friendly faces when we go into a store.
We assume that if we get into an accident or get sick, an ambulance will take us to the hospital and that doctors and nurses will be there to tend to us and make us better.
That may not be the case if we don’t control this virus.
We can’t have New Year’s parties, invite all the neighbors over, hug, kiss under the mistletoe, or drop face our coverings, sing carols and songs and eat, drink and be merry, without thinking every minute about all those other people and all those services we take for granted.
COVID may be your dance partner at this New Year’s party.
COVID may dine with you at your holiday table.
COVID may be the guest you didn’t mean to invite but who chooses to sit next to you and everyone you love.
So, before you worry about being alone on New Year’s Eve, before you accidentally head to the store without wearing a mask, before you go over and give your neighbor a hug — just think again.
Think about the dozens, maybe hundreds, of other people you may be affecting and infecting, quite unintentionally.
We have choices to make this time of year.
We can get angry and sad about the losses we felt – the loss of a normal holiday, perhaps the loss of a job, or we can feel the hope and anticipation of the season, we can stand together through this season, we can refuse to let this virus define us, we can show that we are as courageous, strong and resilient as the people who founded this state, who settled here, who lived here before us, and so many who braved hardships to get here and make this state the fine, beautiful place that it now is.
The biggest gift we can give each other this season is not a present under the tree or a hug shared with a loved one. The best gift we can give, and the best gift we can receive, is the gift of health and the gift of life in this New Year.
You have the power in your hands to give that gift and allow everyone here to live another day and celebrate safely together next year at this time.
So I wish everyone health and happiness in a new season marked by waiting, hope and kindness, and the arrival of new life.
Let’s remember too that even in normal times these holidays can be difficult for many. Do what Maine people always do: check your neighbors, check on those who are struggling, and extend a hand of kindness. These simple things can make a big difference.
Meanwhile, keep the faith and please stay safe.
This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.