Looking for light amid the COVID-19 pandemic this holiday season

Through the ups and downs we've all endured in 2020, this holiday season is a welcome distraction. Still, it isn't the darkness many Wisconsinites are dwelling on; rather, the bright spots they've chosen to share. 

With Christmas lights strung and ornaments hung in Milwaukee's Cathedral Square Park, for a moment, a difficult year seems to disappear. But as we approach the New Year, many people are taking time to reflect. 

"We never thought we'd go through what we're going through today," said Tino Arvanetes. "Life-changing in many respects."

Looking to the lessons they've learned: "I've learned you need patience," said Jerry Retzlaff of Germantown.

"Definitely just rolling with it and being flexible, and just being okay with whatever happens," said Barbara Becker. 

To Candle Purifoy, finding light this holiday season means embracing the present. 

"I am thankful to have life!" said Purifoy. "We truly rose today, we woke up today because there are many that did not wake up today."

Candle Purifoy

For some, it's finding joy in togetherness.

"To take some time to really understand that we love each other," said Arvanetes.

Tino Arvanetes

And sharing the most important gifts of all. 

"We're thankful for being together, thankful for my twins, Aria and Alia. I wrote on Aria's piece of paper, 'Health,' and on Alia's -- 'Family,'" said Paula, a parkgoer. 

For others, the brightest spots won't be what is under the tree, but who they will continue to see. 

Cathedral Square Park

"I'm just looking forward to continuing to build the relationships that have become so strong during this time," said Dolores Brown.

Meantime, Kaila Gurgul is thankful for her four-legged friend -- a pandemic pup -- who has made things brighter this year.

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"I am thankful for my puppy, Fendi," said Gurgul.

To Bill Delind, it is enjoying what's been in front of him, all this time.

"New this year during our pandemic... I did more walking and discovered the beauty of our lakefront," said Delind. 

Cathedral Square Park

While 2020 is one year that will not soon be forgotten, let us, too, remember who helped us through. 

"Let's really plan for a wonderful, better 2021," said Arvanetes.

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