The best gifts are not gifts.

Reflecting on 2020, who would have thought when we were sitting together at the Chamber Gala in January of just how “roaring” the ‘20s would become! That’s OK, 2020 — you can hear us roar in a good way.

Holiday cheer has taken on a whole new meaning this year, and we have a new appreciation for the hustle and bustle. I’m reminded of the store clerks who we always take for granted: their smiling faces, cheerful assistance in finding our perfect holiday gifts, and hard work through the holidays. They’re definitely on Santa’s good list this year! I’m also reminded of those working to keep us safe and healthy: doctors, nurses, first responders, teachers, parents. The good list goes on.

And what about your gift list? Last year, would anyone have had masks on their list? How about one in every color? Who would have thought it would become the newest fashion accessory. How about sanitizer? Everybody wants a bar of soap in their stocking, right? And did anyone have toilet paper on your wish list for Santa to bring down the chimney?

Despite the changes and the challenges we’ve faced this year, the seasons come, holidays are still here, and that can’t be changed or taken away by a pandemic.

“Despite the changes and the challenges we’ve faced this year, the seasons come, holidays are still here, and that can’t be changed or taken away by a pandemic.”

Carrie Tergin

But what about Santa? Will he find us during the pandemic? Of course he will! After all, he is an expert at social distancing. We’ve never seen him coming down our chimneys. After all — only the reindeer footprints, cookie crumbs, and gifts left behind. And believe it or not, we can now Zoom Santa our Christmas wish list. What a great idea! Now we can all travel to visit our friend Santa at the North Pole — who’s with me?

As for the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, the pandemic won’t take it away either. It’s the 15th year for this wonderful tradition, and as you know, when Mayor John Landwehr pulled the official lever to light the tree that first time, he told the story of how the signal goes to the North Pole and then comes back to Jefferson City to light the tree. That gave the parks and rec department the idea of decorating a beautiful tree for the mayor every year. This year, they’ve planned a  special trip for us all: #JCMO goes to the North Pole.

How perfect that we can all make a virtual trip to see Santa’s workshop. We’ll start with the virtual tree lighting on Dec. 3, an event that can be shared from here to the North Pole. And we welcome all the good boys and girls to enjoy the tree at Rotary Centennial Park on Bolivar Street throughout the season.

So I’ll see you at the North Pole in hopes that you’re on Santa’s good list this year (as the mayor, I have a copy of the criteria). If you’ve kept your distance, masked up, checked on your friends and neighbors, and, most of all, be kind and thankful to others, Santa has surely noticed.