Thanksgiving traditionally marks the beginning of the holiday season. Many of us are re-examining the origins of this particular day and learning the truth about the genocide against indigenous people. We are fashioning new rituals as we take advantage of the break from work and school to be with our loved ones.
The week of Thanksgiving also denotes National Family Week, seven days of observance that focus on a recommitment to family and community. This year, however, millions are grappling with the loss of a loved one due to the pandemic. We’ll be replacing gatherings around the communal table with video and phone calls. We ache to hug family members we haven’t seen in months, touch a face, hold someone’s new baby, see our parents delight in our kids. But we’re pushing on with the hope that soon we’ll be back to entertaining and bonding in person.
For many of us, this separation will be temporary. But what about the millions of people in the U.S who always have to worry whether they can be there for their loved ones in the best and worst of times — when we welcome a new child, struggle with a serious illness, need to care for an ill loved one, or to ease the passage of someone who is dying?
The good news is that more than 55 million Americans have been positively impacted by paid sick days and family leave wins. Our movement has won paid sick days in 53 locations, and paid family and medical leave in 10. And federal coronavirus relief legislation — the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) and CARES Act — afforded many families paid time to care during the current pandemic. Thanks to smart public policy, these families no longer have to choose between working or taking time to heal. They can have a life and a livelihood, as all of us deserve.
The better news is that we can win paid time to care on a national level as well. The current fight begins with extending and expanding the protections in the FFCRA and CARES acts, set to expire at the end of the year. Then we continue the drum beat for paid leave in every community, working with existing champions and developing new ones in the fight for inclusive, effective federal paid sick days and paid leave laws and quality, affordable child care.
This year we are acutely aware that so many of us cannot be with those we consider family. But we can rally together from wherever we are, and commit to fighting to make sure all of us can be there for those we love.
Celebrate your loved ones by fighting with us for the policies that keep us safe and healthy together.