How I long to shout “Happy New Year” and really mean it.
Wear a silly hat and blow a cheezy plastic horn at midnight and truly believe its message!
Exchange that greeting with friends without a hint of irony!
Last year I naively did, believing there would be a happy new year, but I won’t be fooled again. In many ways, 2021 made 2020 look like a trailer of coming attractions.
2020 couldn’t end quick enough for me.
A series of personal struggles and tragedies dovetailed perfectly with the crises in the world at large. But somehow the year seemed to end on an optimistic note.
By late December 2020 I experienced a sense of enthusiasm. Though few saw it, behind my robin’s egg blue surgical mask I was actually smiling.
For the first time in four years, I felt not only a glimmer of hope for the coming new year but the beginning of healing.
That glimmer of hope took seed that November.
Months of hunkering down in our own solitary confinement, the yearnings for normalcy that had plagued us had only deepened by fall. Weakened by the double punch of a lying narcissistic president and a deadly pandemic had proven lethal. We were beaten down.
But on election day, we the people chose humanity over callousness, order over chaos, truth over lies.
In 2021 the adults would be coming to help us heal.
To restore, regenerate, and rebuild our democracy. To revive our identity as Americans after four long years in a toxic wasteland that had depleted and damaged us.
After four years, goodness over evil finally won.
At the end of 2020, both the Coronavirus and Donald Trump were still raging, but an end to each one seemed within our grasp.
We had soundly voted that grifter out of the oval office vanquishing Trump back to Mar-a-Lago and into powerless oblivion. His rancid basket of deplorable followers would recede back under the slimy rocks from once they came.
Science would be respected once again.
Common sense and truth would prevail. Waiting in the wings was a powerful and effective vaccine to stop COVID from spreading. Certainly, every American would be clamoring for it once this life-saving miracle became available, rendering our fears, our isolation, and our masks unnecessary.
I envisioned happily spinning around and tossing my N95 mask into the air with the same glee as Mary Tyler Moore did with her blue knit beret in the opening of her TV show.
We were going to make it after all.
Say It Ain’t So Joe
Except we didn’t.
The only thing being thrown up in the air with any regularity in 2021 would be my hands in exasperation.
Having a healer-in-chief in the White House just wasn’t enough.
The new year was barely a week old when 2021 demonstrated how desperately broken we were. The divisions only deepened. Our country and its people were shattered. Splintered. Like Humpty Dumpty, we couldn’t be put back together again.
A nation so hungry for decency for so long has become morally malnourished. All of us on both sides are gripped by ferocious fears for our physical, economic, and emotional health. Hopelessness has spread as rapidly as the wildfires that consumed the west, as destructive as the tornadoes in Kentucky and seem just as difficult to contain.
We had hoped to catch our breath, but the past year left us gasping.
Sapping the oxygen out of democracy is a Republican party hell-bent on stealing our republic.
Their humanity so soiled and left in tatters after the Trump years, as to be unrecognizable. A party that turned a blind eye to a gang of thugs attempting to hijack our democracy in an act sanctioned by a sitting president, was also A-ok with the posting of an image showing the throat slashing of a female member of Congress.
They Never Left
Tragically neither Trump nor Covid left as planned.
Ignorant anti-vaxxers have selfishly and needlessly kept COVID alive. The human toll on misinformation is incalculable. So that today with Omicron spreading with alarming speed, even triple vaxxers aren’t safe. The support for Trump, poised for a comeback is equally virulent.
Like 2020, New Year’s Eve will be spent quietly at home. Across the country, big celebrations are canceled. But there will be one thing I’m looking forward to toasting at the stroke of midnight.
Good riddance to 2021.
Sadly I no longer envision tossing away my N95 mask anytime soon.
But somewhere deep inside me, resides the optimistic Mary Richards part of me, and I truly hope, and pray for all of us, that just maybe, this next year we just might make it after all.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.