I am an unabashed New Year’s lover. Well, maybe not the last one. I had more of a love/ hate relationship with this one. It was certainly the quietest end of the year. I much prefer to share it surrounded by a multitude of people whose energy is palpable. Have you ever brought in the new year with hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands or even a million others? I have been lucky to do so-and each celebration was unique, special and dear to my heart.
I have seen the entire world countdown to a new year at Epcot surrounded by an 80,000 capacity park. It was breathtaking to hear a sample of each country’s language and culture in a brief show as we finally zoomed in on the United States of America.
Celebrating at the top of a swaying cruise ship in the middle of the ocean among strangers from all parts far and wide was exhilarating.
But my favorite had to be the times I witnessed the ball drop in New York City. I was in Times Square just last year. It was freezing, at least to an Arizona native, but the million plus crowd couldn’t have cared less. We were all grouped together, waiting for that electric moment- the ball drop. A sight witnessed by visitors and natives alike since December 31, 1907.
It’s an amazing moment. When a million become one and jointly experience the birth of a new year. At that second we are all of the same mind and emotion. Each wrapped in our own reflections as we recall the last year’s trials and tribulations, successes and failures, promises made and broken, the times we opened ourselves up to new adventures or closed down for fear of getting hurt, heartaches and uplifting times when we persevered through all obstacles.
The energy and unifying force generated by everyone’s thoughts and prayers for a new beginning is electrifying and for that brief moment anything is possible.
In that brief moment the new year can be anything we want it to be.
That’s what New Year’s is all about, a chance to do more, give more, love more and be more.
This year was different.
This year the ball dropped on a nearly empty Times Square, only 39 families, made up of healthcare workers and other front line heroes of 2020. A place more reminiscent of a ghost town these last few months than the bustling, awe inspiring place I experienced twelve months ago.
Many of us spent New Year’s Eve huddled alone or in our “bubble” as we have been for months. Afraid to touch, get close to, let alone see anyone for fear it may cost us our health, or worse our lives.
This year as the clock hit midnight, I heard the pleas screamed from neighbors, “May this be a better year,” “Happy New Year to all who can hear me!”.
Along with individual firework displays that lit up the skies all around the city, making it clear to the heavens above, we will get through this, we will survive, together.
Unlike any other in our lifetime, we all needed this year to end. Sometimes it feels like there is so much we can’t control. The list pales compared to this year’s losses.
A pandemic that has destroyed our economy, throwing many into poverty, struggling to find work, shelter and food.
Fires and natural disasters that wouldn’t abate.
An educational system struggling to reinvent itself with little to no support, finances or guidance amidst terrifying fears of exposure to COVID.
Children too often lost in the destruction, scared, overwhelmed and abused.
A healthcare system and providers at their breaking point.
The inherent racism and inequities built into our very foundation brought to the forefront by the last year’s devastation, impacting those of color at a far greater rate.
The brutal shootings by those who are supposed to serve and protect.
Our democracy, laws and constitution attacked.
The horrifying deaths of over 350,000 precious souls to a virus that has not yet begun to dim. It’s taking one of us every 30 seconds.
It’s a year we want desperately to forget and put behind us. Instead, it will be seared into our hearts and minds forever. The mass destruction, chaos, deceptions and devastation will be analyzed and debated for decades.
And as much as we long to forget and move on we owe it to those who perished to remember:
All those brave souls who did stand up and make a difference in their communities regardless of the risk to themselves.
To those who gave what they could to neighbors who had lost everything.
The nightly gatherings that started in New York City at 7 PM to honor hospital and front line workers as their shifts ended.
The incredible and persistent voice that rang out across the country regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, faith. . .to fight for a common goal- freedom and equality for all.
When science and facts were vilified daily, the greatest scientific minds in the world joined together to create a miracle vaccine in record time.
We may feel helpless, but it’s important to remember the things we can impact:
Being there for each other.
Yes, there are things we can’t control, but the words we speak, our attitude, behavior and acts of kindness are not among them.
The one thing that turns a lonely world into a beautiful one is love, respect, tolerance.
Love brings us hope.
Respect elevates us.
Tolerance bridges differences.
That’s what New Year’s means to me.
We still have a long road ahead, but with a new year anything is possible.
Let’s honor and protect each other so we will all be here next New Year’s Eve.