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It's Thanksgiving, our national day of gratitude, and what am I (and maybe millions of other people worldwide) thankful for? Former President Donald Trump.

I'm thankful that families once again can gather around the dinner table because of the collective efforts of President Trump's "Operation Warp Speed" for COVID vaccine development.

I'm thankful that it got done in only months — several years faster than it's ever been done before.

I'm thankful that government was able to team up with business to make this happen.

And I'm thankful that President Joe Biden was able to take the ball and run with it and get us almost back to normal this Thursday.

Neil F. Anderson, Richfield


Another holiday season portends to be a different and confusing state of affairs due to the ongoing pandemic. Let's face it, these past two years have been a doozy! Disruption and devastation have occurred on so many levels, it's no wonder we want to get together and commiserate. Part of who we are as Americans is to gather and celebrate traditions that center around family, friends and good food. It is a reason to connect and show gratitude with the people we love.

Although this upcoming holiday season brings with it a multitude of challenges, there is also a simplicity in keeping our celebrations intimate. Why not immerse ourselves in stillness and tranquility? Indeed, we've earned it. It is an appropriate time to be lazy and free. To eat what we want when we want will be a pleasure this year. Reaching out or to not engage at all will be our choice. "Hygge," silent reflection and study ought to be our salve during a bitterly cold winter.

Of course, isolation is a persistent threat for those who are not able to leave their home, and for that I truly sympathize. It is our duty to make every effort to comfort our elders who live alone and to comfort friends and family in segregated care settings. Sending handwritten letters, initiating phone calls and FaceTiming can be extremely helpful. Unfortunately, flu viruses, norovirus and other contagious illnesses wreak havoc on the elderly and others during the holidays. How many of us have caught illnesses after visiting during the holidays? I certainly have, it's not worth it!

Why not initiate a new tradition of continued solitude and safety during the bleak winter months? There are so many benefits to contemplation and introspection.

Spring, summer and fall, on the other hand, are the time for friendship, fellowship and physical demonstrations of affection. Three seasons of the year designated for large gatherings or smaller group gatherings is ideal. The one thing this COVID pandemic has taught us is the value of how we treat one another. It is a gift to remain healthy, after all. There is a time and a place for nurturing our familial connections; unfortunately, winter is not one of those times. Let this be the season to start a new tradition.

Sharon E. Carlson, Andover


All together now ...

Given the recent surge of COVID in Minnesota, our state was highlighted a few days ago in the national news. That prompted a new twist to a familiar holiday tune ("Let It Snow!") in our household:

"The COVID outside is frightful,

And to breathe is so delightful;

Now that you've given it lots of thought,

Get the shot, get the shot, get the shot!"

Seriously, people, our lack of ICU beds and beyond-exhausted health care workers are no joke. Get vaccinated and boosted. Do it for your family; do it for the weary hospital workers; do it so there's a bed for you or a loved one for a surgery or an emergency.

Louis Asher, Vadnais Heights


I want to applaud the editorial "A simple message: Vaccines save lives" (Nov. 21). Viruses aren't Democrats or Republicans. They don't care about individual freedoms or religious beliefs. They don't care if they are invading a child's body or an adult's — although thankfully, they seem to be a little "kinder" on children's bodies in most cases. They don't care where in the world someone lives — urban or rural setting, conservative or liberal area, U.S. or worldwide. They don't care if the person believes that they can cause disease and kill the person infected or not. What they do care about is whether a person is vaccinated, as that tends to stop them in their tracks — or at least render them much less effective most of the time. It's time we all, everyone and everywhere, stop this insanity of debating whether COVID-19 is real and can cause serious disease and death and start believing that vaccinations can and do help. Get vaccinated!

Dr. Sheldon Berkowitz, St. Paul


Welcome, future caregivers

I am a product of St. Kate's undergraduate

I am a product of St. Kate's undergraduate and the University of Minnesota graduate schools of nursing. One of my roles at the Hennepin County Public Health Clinic prior to my retirement was clinical mentor. I want to welcome St. Thomas ("A new path for nursing students," Nov. 23) to the wider metro community of nursing programs, which have collectively been committed to equity in student enrollment, clinical experience and improving access to care for many years.

There is much work still to be done. Let's do it together.

Kathleen McDonough, Richfield


Quite the bumpy ride

A recent letter writer praised the resurfacing of the western half of the Midtown Greenway because it no longer makes her teeth chatter ("The resurfacing others find 'botched' pleased this avid rider at least," Nov. 18). She is correct that the project did address some issues. For example, joints that developed in the original pavement over 20 years were repaired well. However, what the more than 2,000 people who have signed a petition calling on the city to redo the paving project object to is the unacceptably rough surface layer that was applied after the underlying deterioration was addressed.

The Department of Public Works sold this project to the city's capital budgeting advisory committee, on which I serve, as a mill-and-overlay in which the upper surface of the older asphalt would be scraped off and a fresh layer of asphalt added. However, the department instead opted for another method of resurfacing that left a riding layer that's corduroyed for much of the project's length, with uneven edges and gaps, making for a vibration-filled ride.

A mill-and-overlay was applied to my residential street four years ago, and it rides far more smoothly than the resurfaced greenway. In requesting this project, Public Works noted that "pavement quality is a higher concern for multiuse trails compared to city streets" because cyclists, rollerbladers and users with disabilities have a lower tolerance for jouncing. The repaving of the Greenway doesn't meet that standard and should be redone.

Steve Brandt, Minneapolis

The writer is member-elect of the Board of Estimate and Taxation.


Like a recent letter writer, I too ride the Midtown Greenway almost every day and for the same reasons. I put over 4,000 miles on my bike this year and I have been very disappointed in the new surface. I suspect she rides a fat-tire bike, or at least one with knobby tires, because as a rider of a recumbent road bike with high-pressure tires, I can assure her I feel every bump on the new surface of the Greenway. The west side of Lake of the Isles was repaved this summer and it turned out fine. It's time to do the same with the Greenway.

Dennis Honigs, Minneapolis

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