I have had many lovely New Years Eves. In the long ago, as newly weds, husband Mike and I met with my cousins each December 31. Those were simple affairs due to the economics of our status as twenty somethings still finding our places in the grand scheme of the world. Nonetheless I recall them with such great joy. We’d dance, play games and watch the ball dropping from its high perch in Times Square.
Later we would find ourselves celebrating with friends like Linda and Bill, Monica and Franz or Egon and Marita. The one and only time that I got drunk in my lifetime was after swigging too much wine on New Years Eve ,which for me meant drinking more than two glasses of the grapey liquid. I was so tipsy that we spent the night with our friends and had to be coached on the process of keeping one foot on the floor to control the dizziness and nausea that overtook my well being. I suppose that this was the moment when I learned my alcohol limit and never again repeated the mistake of thinking that I was drinking some delicious punch rather than an alcohol laced brew
Eventually we settled into a very pleasant tradition with friends Bill and Pat. We would dress in our finery and meet them at a nice restaurant that Pat always reserved for our dining pleasure. We laughed and expressed our gratitude for our blessings over dinner. Later we usually went to see a movie. My favorite ever was A River Runs Through It. Pat and I both cried in response to the poetic beauty of that film.
We always managed to return to Pat and Bill’s home just before midnight so that we would be able to bring in the new year with hugs and kisses. Often we exchanged little gifts at that moment. A treasure that I still have was two crystal champagne flutes from which we toasted the beginning of the twenty first century.
After Pat and Bill died we were at our wits end to find a suitable way to celebrate. We eventually decided to return to the restaurant where we would always meet them. We still dressed in our best and raised our glasses in a toast to all of our friends and family members both living and dead. We’d return home early and spend the rest of evening watching New Years Eve celebrations from around the world.
In 2019, our neighbors hosted a New Years Eve party featuring music through the decades. After eating at our usual restaurant we joined the jolly groups of revelers and danced our way into 2020 without any thought that our lives would change dramatically in the coming months.
At the peak of the first wave of Covid the owner of the restaurant that we had always visited each year died from complications of the virus. He was a sweet man, an unparalleled host whom we knew we would miss along with so many with whom we had celebrate a completed revolution of our journey around the sun.
In 2020, we were alone on New Years Eve. We spent our evening marveling at our blessings and feeling optimistic that vaccines were coming and soon we might end the march of the virus for good. We also thought of our past history with friends and relatives who had been so important in our lives. So many of them were gone, but their spirits filled our hearts with great joy. We marveled at the fates that had brought us together if even for a short time. We also looked forward to joining those still with us as soon as possible.
For a time it felt as though we were on our way to whatever each person thought of as “normal.” As 2021 draws to a close I’m not so sure that we will reach that goal without more suffering and death. Too many are fighting against the very methods that might keep us safe and stop the spread of the virus once and for all. It is annoying and sometimes even uncomfortable to get the vaccines and boosters and to wear masks, but the alternative is far more frightening. It is a sacrifice that we all should be willing to make.
As I look back on my parade of New Years Eve celebrations I feel so much joy. As I look forward to a new year my dream is that we will soon control and ultimately conquer this dreaded virus. I hope that everyone remains safe. I am weary of looking back on times I have shared with treasured friends who have died. I hope not to push the inevitability of losing dear ones simply because they were reluctant to follow the precautions that might have prevented them from catching Covid and dying from it.
Baked into our DNA is a strong will to survive. The same is true of the virus. We have to be more determined than Covid to be still standing when 2022 comes to an end. My wish for the new year, is that we finally admit that our own actions will either make or break the future. We are at war with a potent virus that has the ability to evolve and adapt to whatever it takes. We should learn from that reality and demonstrate that with our intellect and ability we do not have to bow to the whims of a tiny organism. We can accomplish this just as our ancestors defeated fascism. Let us remember that the war was won with patience and sacrifice. We have yet to reach that point. Maybe a new year is the time to begin anew with determination to do whatever it takes. I still have great faith in humankind. This should be our unified resolution.