There’s something liminal about the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day — and into this, the day after, when it’s on a weekend — as if time were standing still and waiting to start again. We pause and reflect and plan. The new year, nothing but a spot on the calendar, still brings with it the power of hope for a fresh beginning.
“This has been a hard year,” 2020 said.
“Hold my beer,” said 2021.
And so we received the death and sickness of a pandemic in its second year — we received it with weariness and sorrow — along with economic challenges, long-postponed inflation, soaring gas prices, exorbitant medical bills, political friction and the depression and anxiety that accompany uncertain times with no readily discernable end.
But we made it through, with support from our loved ones and mental-health professionals, with supplements from the government, with a little help from our friends, with a lot of good will and smiles from our neighbors, even though they were certainly struggling themselves at times.
So let’s start this year with a spirit of gratitude. We just want to say thank you.
Thank you to the medical professionals — doctors, nurses, pharmacists, anesthesiologists, respiratory therapists, technicians of all stripes, dental hygienists, dermatologists, ER physicians, occupational therapists, oncologists, pediatricians and the rest — particularly those who cared enough about their patients to take the proper safety precautions. Thank you for wading through long hours and unrelenting pain, sometimes in the face of abuse and misinformation generated by graduates of Google University who thought they knew more about the pandemic than you did. We know it was tough and still is tough. We see you. Thank you.
Thank you to the law enforcement professionals who kept their cool while keeping the peace during the chaos; who understood the stresses affecting the public and exhibited sympathy at appropriate times; who behaved admirably, calmly and rationally as the communities you serve got a little crazy. Thank you for keeping the rest of us safe.
Thank you to our education experts — teachers, administrators, bus drivers, education boards, librarians, everyone to whom we entrust our children. We know you faced more than a pandemic — you faced challenges to your professional acumen, unreasonable anger from frustrated parents (our words, not yours, because you rarely if ever complained) and the limitations of technology as you put your students’ well-being above everything else.
Thank you to the animal shelter attendants, who helped us find furry, loving new members of the family to walk through this thing with us.
Thank you, post office employees, who always have a smile to go with the stamps.
Thank you to the restaurateurs who cooperated with sequestration even as you bristled against it, knowing the soothing effect of a warm plate and a cold drink on people walking through hell. Thank you for caring for your staff, for requiring the proper precautions to make everyone feel safe.
Thank you to the restaurateurs who had to close the doors. We miss you.
Thank you to the wait staff, flight attendants, cashiers, shelf stockers, all of you who were just trying to do your job while being confronted by rude behavior . Thank you for your patience and perseverance.
Thank you to the ministers and counselors who comforted the sick and their families, who encouraged grace and mercy, who were willing to sacrifice for the greater good and encouraged your congregants to think of others rather than themselves.
Thank you to the government officials who cared more about keeping the public safe than pandering to their instinct for easy accommodation. It probably cost you some votes. We’re grateful.
Thank you to everyone who made us laugh, deep in our bellies — not at suffering people, but at ourselves, at our human foibles, with an undercurrent of respect and love for our shared condition.
Thank you, Taylor Swift, for the surprise albums.
And thank you, subscribers and readers, for coming along with us every day, for stepping outside yourselves and into the world, to listen and learn. Thank you for caring. We know it’s not always been easy. We’ll continue to do our best for you.