As time goes on, we have already found ourselves in the midst of the breezing winter, closing off yet another chapter of our lives through that special moment – the annual celebration and countdown of a new year. Under usual circumstances, one would gather in cozy, sometimes even boozy, living rooms, surrounded with holidays’ themed decorations, and illuminated by candles or Christmas lights. The smell of freshly prepared festive dishes will go around the room, while small talk and deep conversations fill up the otherwise silent air, catching up on each other’s lives. Once the clock strikes midnight, we would cheer, congratulate, and even light up the sky with enchanting and colorful fireworks – launching the new year with a banger. That is, however, not the case for 2021.
With the majority of the world still being in a pandemic, governments have been taking crucial measures to control the situation, including the minimization of the new year’s celebration. For those who maintained the rules (my newly moved neighbors certainly did not), it would have meant no physical parties, no dinner gatherings, and even no firing off explosives for entertainment purposes. Sounds quite sad, doesn’t it? Yet think about those who do not have the opportunity to spend it with loved ones – those who are trapped inside foreign countries, those who are on duty of enhancing safety, or those who are risking their lives by taking care of those in need.
It is important to remain responsible and reflective, even after leaving 2020 behind us, as the battle has not been defeated. How could we do this? Besides following the obviously established regulations, I would advise to embrace this new year with a sense of never-taken-for-granted attitude. Rather than setting several new year’s resolutions – probably perceived as quite intimidating in the light of last year’s events – developing and improving one’s gratitude and appreciation towards the normality of life could be a (hopefully) beneficial substitute.
A quite important and mutually agreeable takeaway from 2020 would be that nothing in life should be taken for granted, whether it is having physical education/work, going out for dinner, visiting family and friends or travelling to different areas of this beautiful world. All the little things in life that normally fill up our day have gradually yet also suddenly vanished from our lives, leaving us with a feeling of confusion, distress and frustration. Everything that was once experienced as the usual became unfamiliar territory in an attempt of protecting ourselves and others. Although this is one of the more tragic events I have encountered in my twenty years of presence on this planet, it also opened my and many other eyes to a new, slightly adjusted lens towards life. A perspective that is appreciative to the precious time we have, the ability of fully embracing every opportunity, the chance of being surrounded with loved ones and the freedom to decide upon the direction of your journey.
From now on, every event, every hangout, every occasion, and every embrace should be cherished and valued, as we do not know if it would be taken away from us one more time. Leaving all the negativity behind of the terrific year that was 2020, I wish 2021 could be a new chapter that continues the healing process of many people, both mentally and physically, and a year that allows us to experience life once again to the fullest.
Author: Gwendolyne Cheung
Illustrator: Chelsea Blijlevens