The year 2020 A.D. (Altogether Delirious) was …

Like that time when you were young and reckless (not to mention incredibly stupid), and you got too drunk for your own good (or anyone else’s), and you said some stuff you really shouldn’t have, and you did some stuff you’d regret well into your adulthood, (and you shudder whenever you think about it in your geezerhood.) You know the time I’m talking about. It was that time you drove home all plastered to the gills, and you sideswiped a tow truck, tearing the chrome and door handles off the passenger’s side of your parents’ 1965 Chrysler Newport.

“The good news, Dad,” you said with as much innocent earnestness as you could muster: “Nobody was hurt, and the car still runs fine.”

(Your original plan was to pretend nothing happened, and maybe no one would notice, but that strategy went out the window when the owner of the tow truck showed up the following morning.)

Yep, that’s right. 2020 was a drunken escapade. But not a fun drunken escapade. There was little or no dancing on the tables, no rowdy drinking songs and as a year, it sideswiped a tow truck on its drunken drive home, and lots of people got hurt (and died), and the car doesn’t run that well at all anymore.

However, we enter into 2021 with more than a little cautious hope. There’s a vaccine now, and the government says it’s going to give us somewhere between nothing, 600 bucks and 2,000 bucks. Perhaps the 2020 rabbit hole has taken a sharp turn upward, and maybe that light we’re seeing is the end of the tunnel and not a semi headed at us.

Or maybe 2021 isn’t going to be all that different at all. The political divisions certainly aren’t going to heal and even though there’s a COVID vaccine, it’s going to take more than a little while for things to get back to “normal.” Which is to say, it’s going to be a while until we feel safe enough to interact totally with each other again.

Still, I cannot help but fear 2021 is going to be the hangover of that bad drunken escapade.

But wait a minute, 2020 had its moments. Sure, we saw a lot of selfishness, but we also saw some of the most stirring selflessness we’ve seen in decades. And sure, there was (and still is) a lot of political fighting, but maybe the lesson we can — and should — take from that is that no leader, regardless of party affiliation or political ideology can make us better if we ourselves don’t put in the effort.

Also, maybe we learned normal ain’t really worth yearning for. I wrote about this earlier in 2020, but I think it bears repeating. Maybe the normal we knew before COVID-19 wasn’t so great. Maybe, the advance into a whole new year is an opportunity for a better normal. So maybe our advancement to 2021 is like a milestone birthday.

When you live to be a certain age, you’ve experienced a number of milestone birthdays, wherein someone inevitably asks if you feel 21, 30 ,40, 65, older than dirt, and in the moment, you think you’re really not different.

However, your are in fact different.

Maybe, just maybe, 2021 will find us considerably better than we were a year ago, without us even realizing it. So here’s to 2021. May it be better than its predecessor, which taught us not to dare ask the question, “What could possibly be worse?”

Happy New Year. We won’t feel different but we will get better. (Or that’s what I’m gonna constantly tell myself this year.)

Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.

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