Hugs are definitely back this Thanksgiving. So are hearty handshakes. Most people seem comfortable with -- if not yearning for -- more human connection.
That's as good of a sign as any that the pandemic, whether officially or not, is over.
Our children and grandchildren are in school, mostly without masks. They're learning and socializing, with the latest test scores across Wisconsin holding steady. If you're reading this, you survived the worst public health scourge in a century.
Voters just selected local, state and congressional leaders in fair elections with high turnout. Lots of different kinds of candidates claimed victory, and their opponents graciously acknowledged defeat. Our democracy is still strong, and the vast majority of Americans trust the accuracy of the counts.
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We have so much to be thankful for today.
Sure, COVID and especially the flu are spreading this fall. We don't want to gloss over the importance of getting life-saving vaccines to protect ourselves and our loved ones, especially the elderly.
But isn't it great to be back doing all the things we love, when and where we want to do them?
Wisconsin's economy -- especially in the Madison region -- is humming, and pretty much anyone who wants a job can find one. Inflation is still high. But wages and opportunity are strong.
Our community is generous. More than 20,000 individuals and 500 businesses are providing what's expected to be more than $18 million this year to the century-old United Way of Dane County. More than 3,000 State Journal readers and 500 volunteers will make sure some 7,000 toys are distributed to more than 2,500 families for Christmas through the more than century-old Empty Stocking Club.
Thank you for you generosity.
Wisconsin and Madison are awash in natural beauty, including Madison's lakes and Isthmus. That's what is moving our community toward remaking the Lake Monona shoreline Downtown -- so more people can enjoy our waterways and be willing to protect them.
More of our elected officials, farmers, utilities, neighbors and especially young people are stepping up to address the challenge of climate change.
The Badgers and the Packers? Let's not go there, though the Wisconsin volleyball team is competing for a national title, and the cross country teams just finished near the top. And how about those Bucks?
Our city and state should definitely be thankful for UW-Madison, UW System, private college and trade school students across Wisconsin who are working hard to be our future leaders. The next generation renews our enthusiasm and optimism.
Madison is spoiled with great food, beer and farmers markets. And we're doing more to ensure that everybody feels welcome and has a fair shot at more prosperity and happiness.
We've come so far, yet we still respect the past, which is important. The discovery of two canoes over the last two years that are 1,200 and 3,000 years old in Madison's lakes helps us connect with, learn about and appreciate the original people who called Wisconsin home.
We're thankful their innovations and resilience led to today's world.
Maybe in another few thousand years, the archeologists will find an ancient paddle board buried somewhere in Madison with a Clean Lakes Alliance sticker on it and an iPhone nearby -- all miraculously preserved. Here is what they should conclude: We are a resourceful and happy people who tried hard to have fun while passing on a better world to them.
Our best days are still ahead.