“And the year 2020 came to an end and they all lived happily ever after.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all leave this year behind and be certain of the “happily ever after” part?
I have often wondered at the hype that typically accompanies the end of a year and the beginning of another, especially since the year starts and ends at different times, depending on which calendar we choose to follow. The Jewish New Year and the Chinese New Year do not coincide with the 1st of January, and they do not even occur on the same day each year.
It eventually occurred to me that the meaning we attach to a day or anniversary is what gives it significance, not the day itself. On one occasion during my residency training, I specifically asked to be allowed to deliver a laboring patient’s baby because it was the anniversary of my mother’s passing. I felt that helping to bring a new life into the world on the day when I could have been focusing on death would have a special meaning. I remember looking at an obituary as a child and announcing to my mother that someone had died on my birthday. Her immediate response was, “Don’t associate negative things with your birthday!” While I understood the maternal sentiment behind her admonition, I couldn’t help thinking later that people are born and die every single day!
Parents are filled with hopes and dreams for their children, even though they do not know which of these dreams will be fulfilled. Similarly, the beginning of a year is accompanied with hopes and aspirations. The year 2020 came with unexpected surprises like the pandemic. Other issues that had been lurking in the background were brought to the forefront – like police brutality and systemic racism. Then there was the election and the unprecedented events that followed.
After such a difficult year, we are understandably exhausted. Hopefully, the arrival of a vaccine signals the beginning of the end of the pandemic that has ravaged our society for most of this year. While we cannot guarantee that the new year will bring us a “happily ever after,” we can look forward with optimism as we pray and hope for a healthier and happier tomorrow, regardless of which calendar we use.