I’ve never really comprehended the concept of celebrating New Years. Even more, I don’t understand the thinking that a simple change of the numbers on a calendar will bring on drastic, instantaneous changes to the world around us. It’s that same mentality that dictates that you should feel different as soon as you turn a milestone age.

Around this time every year, I see social media posts indicating how they can’t wait for this year to be over and how much they are looking forward to next year. It’s like the Times Square Ball dropping magically releases a spell that removes all the bad in the world. I suppose this mindset is actually supposed to be healthy, as it falls into the category of positive thinking rather than dwelling on the negative. But it also seems to be a little too idealistic.

This attitude reminds me of an episode of M*A*S*H, titled “A War for All Seasons.” In it, the opening scene shows the characters having a New Years Eve party. Colonel Potter, dressed as Father Time, makes a speech saying “Here’s to the New Year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we all be home before she’s over.”

The entire episode is then compiled of snippets of events that take place during the “new year,” concluding with the cast once again assembled on New Year’s Eve and Colonel Potter making the exact same speech.

While obviously an exaggerated (and quite frankly sombre) notion, this episode exemplifies that no matter how hard we wish, the changing of the calendar year doesn’t necessarily bring about drastic changes to our situation. 

If there was ever a year that everyone wishes this wouldn’t be the case, it is most definitely this year. When I first broached the subject of doing the Star’s annual “Year in Review” to our leadership group, there were several half-joking, but I’m sure half-serious questions of ‘does anyone really want to remember this year?’

I must admit, while going through all of the editions of the Star over the previous year is usually an enjoyable task, this year it was completely different as I was on a mission to try and balance presenting both COVID and non-COVID news summaries. While I didn’t want it to be solely a COVID recollection, I also know that we can’t completely ignore the elephant that is not only in the room, but has enveloped the entire building.

Don’t get me wrong, I generally have a positive attitude. On multiple occasions I have been commended for turning lemons into lemonade. And despite some of the more dire forecasts that seem to be emphasized by certain experts and members of the media, I do believe we are beginning to see a faint light at the end of the tunnel. 

Numbers are trending downward, people are starting to receive vaccines, and winter sports and at least elementary schools are on the path to resuming. At the same time, though, we are far from being completely out of the woods. Meaning at best, 2021 may very well be a reverse image of 2020, where the beginning of the year is terrible, but it gradually gets better as the months go on.

Either way, I suppose it can’t hurt to paraphrase Colonel Potter: Here’s to the New Year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we all be back to our normal lives before she’s over.

BILL STICKELS III is editor of the Isanti-Chisago County Star. He can be reached at 763-689-1181 ext. 107 or editor@countystar.com. 

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