Traditionally at this time of year, news media outlets devote many pages and program hours to rehashing the previous 12 months. As both columnist and consumer, I look forward to recounting the year’s most memorable moments and reading various Top Ten lists. These annual recaps are, for me, an important holiday ritual. I find comfort and cheer in reliving special memories and reflecting on lessons learned.
For my last column of 2020, I had intended to compose a thoughtful message of inspiration and hope; silver linings and all that. Instead, for the past two weeks, I’ve been banging my head against a solid brick wall of writer’s block, hard enough to shatter my rose-colored glasses. After a year of coping with the pandemic, politics, polarization and personal losses, I long for just one more “P” word: pau.
Last night I watched “Death to 2020” on Netflix, hoping the star-studded, dark-humored mockumentary would lift me out of this funk. It did, at times, especially when Samuel L. Jackson and Tracey Ullman were onscreen. Hugh Grant and Lisa Kudrow also had me laughing out loud. But I couldn’t shake the sadness that came with the realization that much of the film’s absurdity was, tragically, reality.
This evening I’ll try again to inject some humor into my perspective, with the Amazon Prime premiere of “Yearly Departed.” The synopsis describes it as a series of eulogies for the year 2020, delivered by an all-female lineup of comedians, including Tiffany Haddish and Sarah Silverman.
And even if the comedy fails to bring closure, thankfully the calendar will.
New Year’s Day has always been a most meaningful holiday for our family, and even with the necessary safety and social restrictions, we can still carry out our customs and celebration. We’ll hang the pine and bamboo branches at our front doors, eat the traditional Japanese foods and, most importantly, spend the day in good company and good spirits. Every New Year’s Day, as far back as I can remember, Mom would say, “Whatever you do today, you’ll be doing the rest of the year.”
So what the heck did we do last January 1st, I wondered, to bring us such a surreal year? I checked my Sharing Mana’o archive for clues and found that my first column of the year was published on New Year’s Day. It began with an Ogden Nash quote:
“Duck! Here comes another year.”
The line comes from the poem “Good Riddance, But Now What?” Now what, indeed.
That column also included a well-know couplet by Nash:
A good way to forget today’s sorrows
Is by thinking hard about tomorrow’s.
I am superstitious enough to feel a tiny bit of guilt, as if my flippancy somehow contributed to the onset of COVID-19. I know it’s a ridiculous, outrageous notion, but then again, this has been a ridiculously outrageous year.
So, rather than tempt fate with any thoughts of sorrow, be it yesterday’s, today’s or tomorrow’s, I will pick up the pieces of my rose-colored glasses and put them back together so that I can properly look forward to 2021. For Mom and me, Friday will be a day of gratitude and optimism. I wish the same for you and yours.
But just in case, be ready to duck.
* Kathy Collins is a radio personality (The Buzz 107.5 FM), storyteller, actress, emcee and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every other Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.