Merry Christmas - It’s A Wonderful Life!
You’ve Been Given A Great Gift!
Jay and Karen share thoughts of gratitude and joy – wishing you and your family a wonderful and Merry Christmas.
‘It’s A Wonderful Life,’ is by far and away my favorite movie of all time. It embodies the true spirit of America – small towns and caring communities, friends helping friends, neighbors helping neighbors. And, its core message is contained in one simple but powerful statement. When Clarence, the guardian angel says to George Bailey – ‘You’ve been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you.’
It’s so very true. Every individual life touches so many others. What you do, what you contribute to your community, the time you spend as a mentor or helper to others, can have a profound and lasting impact. And, it’s so easy to overlook or be unaware. How many times can you remember, as a young person, the impact that that an older more experienced person may have had – with some helpful comment or piece of guidance that they may not even remember?
Watching the movie was especially meaningful this year. Karen and I were fortunate enough to have one of our sons with us this week for the holiday. When he told us he hadn’t seen the movie in years, it was more than enough reason to watch it all together as a ‘family event.’ For those who may not have seen it, without spoiling the film, it follows the story of a man named George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, who sacrifices so much of himself to serve others. And, is given a special opportunity to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. In so doing, he comes to realize that the life worth living is right in front of him and that the actions he has taken throughout his life have contributed in powerful ways to so very many people in his community.
Over the past few weeks, while driving across our great state of New Hampshire, I’ve seen houses brilliantly decorated with Christmas lights, and communities who have come together in incredible ways to serve those in need. As a result, the resilience of so very many across the Granite State demonstrates that we live in a place where there’s a belief in taking care of each other. While we may not necessarily see the immediate benefits all our actions have on those around us, each small action we’ve taken to support ourselves, our families, and communities, is paying dividends, now, and well into the future. So today, whether it’s the morning of the 25th, or the weekend after, or sometime in the future, know that with every positive action you take, there’s a positive ripple effect that can have profound impact for others. Just like George Bailey, we have the opportunity to build strong bonds of friendship, community and leave a lasting positive impact on those around us.
Honoring Veterans on a Crisp December Morning
On December 19, 2020, volunteers across all 50 states and abroad organized wreath laying ceremonies to remember our veterans who served. And, right here in New Hampshire, we joined this national effort with enthusiasm and patriotic spirit – holding memorial ceremonies in a number of cemeteries throughout the state.
The ceremony that Karen and I attended was held at the Pine Hill Cemetery in Dover, New Hampshire and was a truly inspirational experience. It was an event that came together largely due to the efforts of our great friend, Matt Mayberry, a Dover resident and US Air Force Veteran, who had learned that the traditional wreath laying ceremony held annually at Arlington National Cemetery would not be taking place this year due to Covid and decided to take action right here in the Granite State. Matt organized hundreds of wreaths to be laid at the graves of veterans throughout the state as well as the Dover cemetery.
In addition, the Dover event was especially meaningful as Ryan Pitts, a New Hampshire native, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient and great friend shared his thoughts with the group., honoring all those who have served.
And a special thanks to Jack Heath, a passionate supporter of veterans and highly respected voice in New Hampshire who helped build awareness for the event through his widely followed radio broadcasts.
And, thanks, too, to our dear friend, Executive Councilor Elect Janet Stevens, who joined with the American Legion Post 35 in Hampton to honor those who served. And, our wonderful friend Marga Coulp, who spent the entire day laying wreaths – first at Dover and then at Barrington, into the dark of night. By the way, the prayer that she offered to begin the ceremony in Dover was wonderful and most appreciated.
From Nashua to the North Country, from the Seacoast to Sullivan County, Granite Stater’s showed their patriotic spirit and deep respect. Heartfelt thanks to all who participated. We look forward to even more support next year, continuing this important tradition of honor and respect for those who have defended our freedom and served our great country.
COVID Relief – Let’s Do Something Good
Let’s turn a lemon into lemonade. Earlier this week, Congress passed a Covid Relief Bill – and as it turns out, D.C. politicians have let us down once again. This time failing to deliver meaningful assistance to the people who need it most – small business and individuals devastated by the effects of the pandemic and related shutdowns. Instead, this $900 billion ‘relief’ measure is too little, too late and riddled with misguided priorities, including expenditures on foreign aid, favoritism and political pet projects.
So, rather than sit back and let our politicians in the D.C swamp fail us once again, let’s stand up as everyday Americans and take positive action to make things right.
The Relief Bill provides for the average American to receive a one-time payment of $600, plus an additional $600 per child. That’s it? These payments amount to a ‘band aid’ at best. Moreover, there is no attempt to differentiate between families who have borne the brunt of the pandemic and others who have been less affected. For instance, why should federal employees, who have seen no disruption in income and in fact, many have received raises, receive the same check as the out of work waitress or the barber whose shop has been closed for months on end?
And to make matters worse, this is all happening way too late. This same meager deal could have – and should have been agreed months ago. However, D.C. politics – in this case, thanks primarily to Speaker Nancy Pelosi – prevented action, resulting in immeasurable harm to small businesses and families all across America.
In particular, the restaurant industry which had already been dealt a body blow by the D.C. delay – with 110,000 restaurants going out of business due to the pandemic. Shockingly, the relief package falls far short of being a friend to hard working Americans in the restaurant business, providing only limited payroll expense funding, while being of no help at all with rent, food supply or support for other operating expenses. Truly too little, too late – resulting in so many more family businesses being forced to close their doors forever.
But, here’s the ‘worst part of all,’ where D.C. politicians showed their true colors and diverted scarce resources away from those most in need. If the point of Covid Relief legislation is to stimulate our economy and help average Americans survive through the pandemic, then how do these expenditures make any sense at all? The package contains an entire section for the opening of two new Smithsonian Institution Museums, over $1.5 billion for foreign aid (how many out of work Americans could that help?), and $222 million for Congressional salaries. Not to mention, $75 million each for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports public radio stations as well as NPR.
Is this truly the best we can do? As we move into 2021, let’s recognize that the pandemic has impacted Americans unequally, creating a massive redistribution of wealth. Big business has done just fine – with 45 of the 50 our largest corporations, companies like Google, Amazon and Walmart achieving profits this past year, while small business – the lifeblood of America – has been ravaged - causing economic hardship and struggle for working families. Moreover, during the past nine months, 8 million Americans been forced into poverty.
Washington needs a ‘wake up call.’ It’s time to shift the focus away from political games and favors and direct our resources to directly help those who are most in need – to support working families, get folks up on their feet and back to work. Let’s take positive action and ensure that these significant changes take place. Turning a lemon into lemonade. And in so doing, with the confidence that if we invest our resources in hard working Americans, we will emerge from this pandemic with strength, optimism and with no limit to what can be achieved.
Positive Profile of the Week: Sherm Packard
To have the trust of the people you represent is a great honor. Representative Sherm Packard has earned that trust - time and time again – and as such has become a highly respected pillar in New Hampshire politics.
Sherm was first elected to NH House of Representatives in 1990. During his thirty-year tenure, he has worked with 7 different Governors and has been a respected colleague and mentor to numerous fellow Representatives and State Senators. As a resident of Londonderry, Sherm has represented the voters of Rockingham, District 5, and has always been known as a leader who is approachable, friendly and someone his constituents can rely on. Sherm has had almost every position imaginable in the State House since being elected, but Sherm’s next role will be his biggest. Sherm was elected by the Republican Caucus to be their nominee for Speaker, given the job of attempting to fill the void left by the tragic passing of Speaker Dick Hinch.
I first met Sherm when I was running for Governor back in 1998. From the moment I met him, I have always admired Sherm as being a man of his word. When he says he is going to do something, he does it. He has been a ‘go to’ person on countless campaigns for state and federal office, and his opinion and advice are highly respected. In the world of politics, Sherm’s endorsement is a valuable credential that candidates strive to secure.
But it’s not just casting votes in Concord or involvement in political campaigns that defines Sherm’s commitment to his community. As an avid motorcycle enthusiast, he has donated countless hours, serving on boards to improve motorcycle safety and education. Year after year, you can find Sherm leading a motorcycle toy run to help kids in need or involved in a myriad of other activities to improve the lives of others. I can honestly say there is never a day when Sherm isn’t giving back in some form or fashion to the community he loves and the people he serves.
We are thrilled by the prospect of Sherm Packard as our next Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. The Granite State will be wonderfully and honorably served.
Quotes of the Week: It’s A Wonderful Life
“Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?”
Clarence, the Guardian Angel
“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word, and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.”
“They did it, they did it, George, they voted Potter down. And they only had one condition, and that's the best part. They want you to run the Building and Loan.”
“My mouth's bleeding, Bert! My mouth's bleedin'!”
“I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long...”
“To my big brother George, the richest man in town! “
Little Harry Bailey