The end of the year is always such a mixed emotion time. The holiday season brings with it that rush of excitement that kids wait all year for. Gifts and bright lights, hymns and feasts. And then when its over there’s the realization, like it or not, that another year has passed. I think that for most people it’s a natural time of reflection as well. I always find myself tucked away with a journal and pen thinking back on the flurry of the year. What defined the year for me? There are news events of course, but inevitably it comes down to my family. What joy did we experience together? How much have my kids grown – inside and out? How am I feeling about where I am personally and professionally? Often the news of the world sheds some light on that. This year is no different.
2020 has been one of the scariest of our lives. The things we took for granted revealed themselves to be privileged blessings. The things we accepted as certainties, we don’t any more.
When we stopped doing Christmas presents in 2012, it meant we were removed from the flood of crowds at stores in November and December. Instead we were curled up at home, happy enough with good food and the promise of family and friends coming over for extended laugh fests. I’ve never felt like presents were a bad thing, only that they didn’t suit our family’s approach to the season. So I was just as sorry for families who were struggling to get their shopping done, as I was for the families that couldn’t gather. And most of all, I was pained for those for whom an already painful time of year became more so due to the losses of the year – lives and livelihoods among them.
This year no one got what they wanted.
And yet, despite being in the middle of the pandemic (or maybe because of it), my quartet was reminded of what matters. While we missed everyone, we relaxed into the fact that the role we were to play in the world’s recovery was to stay home. We couldn’t be with cousins or grandparents and so we doubled down on each other instead. And our appreciation for what we have – near and far – grew. Even when pyjamas become a uniform, even when no one wants to watch the movie you pick and you’re being forced into a game of Monopoly (i mean who really likes that game?!?). Even then, we recognized how very lucky (and privileged) we are to have our health and each other.
Now, January looms. Some have already given it a crown I’m not sure it can live up to. While the vaccine means that hope is in the cards, this vicious virus is far from over. We still need to exercise caution. We still need to treat each other with care. And yet, hope is there.
It’s where I’m focusing my attention. Not on some fairy tale ending where we blink and the hardships of the past year are gone, but on a year that slowly unfurls itself to reveal that lessons of the year we’ve had. I hope that the months ahead show that we are kinder, softer, more appreciative.
Among my new year dreams is a place where Black Lives Still Matter, where kindness is always offered, where the planet is protected, where we care about the people on the other side of the city and the other side of the planet, and where the worlds’ wonders – and the incredible privilege of living in this time – are celebrated. I believe in the possibility of all of this and I hope that more of us – wiser to what was at stake – take our better selves out into the world to see it when we can.
Happy New Year to you and yours. I wish you health, love and happiness in these trying months and can’t wait to see you somewhere in the world once it is safe to do so. Better days are around the corner. I can feel it.