By Frank Blechman
Having been grumpy and contrary all year, I am told that now is the time that I should shift into an upbeat mood. Mostly, I am told this by people who celebrate this time of year as a secular holiday. They see this as a time to take off from work, drink too much, and in the past, hang out with people while maybe watching sports.
For my more religious friends, these are Holy Days, not holidays (although the words are linguistically connected). This is a time when the spirit of the divine draws near (whether for Hanukkah, Christmas, or the Winter Solstice). Fragile humans that we are, we should draw back to regard the sacred with awe; perhaps also some fear or joy, depending on our previous relationship therewith.
For “essential workers,” already overwhelmed by the current crisis and perhaps personal tragedy, there is no break at all. The health experts all tells us the pandemic will get (much) worse before it gets better.
For political nerds, this is either the best of times or the worst, depending on partisan persuasion. For nonpolitical nerds, we just hope that the madness, division, and yelling will stop for a little while.
As a diverse society, no event or experience will be the same for everybody.
If 2021 is going to be better than 2020, I personally have a lot of work to do. I have to clean up my behavior. I have to repair relationships. I have to reset priorities.
I’ll observe the shortest day of the year with assurance that the days will start getting longer, and reaffirmation that the cycles of life are on schedule. I’ll celebrate each of the festivals with followers of that faith. I’ll look forward to getting seasonal greetings, and will mail out my “new year’s cards” in time for them to arrive before the ball descends on Times Square (with no one crowded in to see it?).
And then … and then I will take down the decorations and face the fact that if 2021 is going to be better than 2020, I personally have a lot of work to do. I have to clean up my behavior. I have to repair relationships. I have to reset priorities.
In the meantime, I hope for about ten days to breathe some clean winter air.
See you January 4.