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Merry Christmas,
Arguably, this Christmas season is more important than ever before as we yearn for precious moments with friends and family and celebrate holiday spirit.

Over the past several months many have struggled with job loss, financial hardship and isolation from loved ones. This has taken its toll on our families, our local businesses and almost certainly our mental health.
Many seniors in our communities endured the Great Depression and two world wars, but for most of us the havoc the pandemic has caused over the past few months has been unlike anything we have ever endured in our lifetimes.
Regardless of one’s view on the impact of Covid-19 it has impacted all of us in one way or another.
We are all working together, locally and nationally, to ty and mitigate the impact this pandemic has had on our communities. 
In the riding, for example, we worked with our MLAs, local business owners and stakeholder groups to establish the Foothills Business Recovery Task Force. The goal is to provide a hub for provincial and federal assistance programs as well as develop local best practices to boost southern Alberta’s economy.
In Ottawa I have been named to the Health committee where my colleagues and I are focused on accessing rapid testing, securing vaccine and developing a clear strategy for economic and health recovery.
However, we know this past year has been a challenge for many in southern Alberta and this holiday season will hopefully provide some much-needed respite.
Friends, the festive season is upon us, and for me and my family, this is our most cherished time of the year. It is an opportunity to support our local businesses, reconnect with friends and enjoy time with loved ones.
It is also a time to reflect. When I look back on what we have endured over the past several months what stands out for me is, despite our struggles, is the care and compassion our Foothills residents displayed in supporting one another.
Those who could, supported local. Business owners showed resiliency and innovation. Our front-line health care workers and essential services gave everything they had to ensure health care was available, store shelves were stocked, and our streets were safe.
To all those who keep us safe, those who treat the sick, to our local business owners and their employees, to our farmers who keep us fed, to the organizations and volunteers who support the vulnerable, and to everyone who selflessly contributes to see us through these challenging times, thank you.
Even the smallest acts of kindness and gestures of goodwill have brought hope to the Foothills. In true Southern Albertan fashion, you did not allow these dark times to overwhelm, but rather inspired your courage to persevere.
Family and community are truly at the heart of Christmas spirit, and you have exemplified this across our communities.
This season is not just about reflecting on the past year, but it can also be about looking forward to new beginnings and even new traditions.
Depending on your situation and circumstances, this Christmas may not be the same and we may have to adapt.
Knowing that, I invite you to once again find the magic in Christmas, to make time to enjoy the simple pleasures of the holiday season. Like the joy of catching snowflakes on our tongue; the smell of a fresh baked apple pie; the colourful and shimmering lights around town; seeing an old friend; singing a Christmas carol or the awe of a child seeing Santa Claus for the first time. I encourage you to embrace your childhood Christmas spirit.
At this time of year mental health is always top of mind and this year it is even more so. In the dark days of winter Albertans are dealing with incredible challenges. Suicides and opioid overdose deaths are at crisis levels. If you know someone who needs help, please reach out to them and ensure they can access the resources available to them. Let them know they are not alone.

For many Albertans, 2020 has been like no other, and celebrating Christmas will be different this year. I hope you and yours can end the year on a more cheerful note and make way for a fresh and bright new year.

John Barlow
Member of Parliament for Foothills
Copyright © 2020 John Barlow MP, All rights reserved.

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