Last New Year’s Eve started out in its typical fashion and traditional manner: new year, new me, and new beginnings.
With the ringing of 2020 and the confetti settling in Times Square, many had high hopes of what awaited them in this “epic” year to come. Oh, and epic it would be.
Who knew a bat in China would cause disruptions of epic proportions to life as we know it. COVID-19 held no prejudices, affecting and changing the life of every human in every nation.
As March came creeping up upon us, little did we know that our New Year’s Eve wishes would go up in smoke and turn into the simplistic, basic human right to just leave our homes and see a smile. With the mask controversy quickly on the rise and toilet paper becoming a trendy commodity, our nation and the world felt a shift into what we now sadly call “normal.”
Plexiglass speedily going up to separate any and every transaction, complete shutdowns of our favorite restaurants and shops, political mayhem, morgues exceeding capacity, and hand sanitizer becoming liquid gold, our mandatory quarantine shut down life as we know it and any New Year’s prospect we formerly hoped for.
Our wishes quickly became the simple hope of good health for ourselves and family: to be able to hit the snooze button in the morning with a job still open for business awaiting us; wanting a simple hug from our grandparents; hoping the lines to buy groceries would only wrap around the building one time and winter temps wouldn’t freeze us by the time we were allowed to have the privilege of shopping at the supermarket, all the while fearing that the vid is lurking behind a mask or making its way through the air waves.
Society took a historical hiatus from school-age children through elderly locked up in their nursing homes. We all became prisoners to Zoom, Netflix, and WiFi. Although much needed rest was a gift to many, the bills did not quarantine, and we were expected to somehow go forward in fear of the unknown day-to-day.
As the bills piled up, unemployment reached uncontrollable proportions, where till this very day, some have yet to get their benefits—we crawled through each day in hope of normalcy returning and for America to return to the land of the “free.”
All the freedoms we took for granted are now privileges we promise to cherish if only they would return. So how exactly do we usher in 2021? Do we foolishly fall into the delusion that the turning of a calendar page changes absolutely anything that 2020 brought? Would be nice to think it was that simple, but as we have learned, simple is far from what our daily lives have become.
So is a “happy” new year really upon us? Our wishes this year will be in the hopes of prospective normalcy to return: I miss seeing the smile of a stranger, children at play and in school, or giving and receiving a hug from grandma. Six hundred dollars cannot buy us the simple freedoms we have been robbed of this year.
No amount of money will bring any of those who passed away back, the time we have lost this year with family and friends, the countless businesses that have shut their doors for good, or the memories that were stifled.
But with all that’s lost, may we all take into the New Year all that we have gained: gratitude for the simple things in life.
May the shake of 2020 land us all into a progressive, better nation as a whole this year. You can only rise once you’ve hit bottom. As we end this historical year at a low, may our wishes be to rise as a nation and to “simply” have a Happy New Year.