Old vs New Year
In past years I have written about wild celebrations as we look forward to a New Year. Conditions in this old year remain restrictive beyond our experiences in life. It gives us cause to celebrate the departure of a rough time barely endured. COVID-19 has led many folks to blast the outgoing year as a horrible event best forgotten. I understand the issues caused the world a serious economic downturn and bought on mandatory social distancing, and restrictions on events or gatherings. Finally, worst of all, we mourn the death of friends and family members. This is heavy stuff on a world that up until the pandemic’s spread was doing nicely. To be told when a person was sick they had to be quarantined and could not receive visitors was hard, especially when we couldn’t even visit those who were passing. Memorial services have been postponed until a time when we again can be allowed to gather and remember the deceased. Yes, it has been a hard year and unlike any I have known in my lifetime.
I remember being taught in grade school about plagues such as the ‘Black Death,’ that took many lives during the Middle Ages. Apparently this was caused by flea bites carried by rats. It was made worse by the lack of sanitation and understanding of how infections are passed. Nearly a third of the population in cities and towns were taken. Then there was the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, a date closer to those of our parents and grandparents. This one infected 500 million people, again taking about one third of the population.
During this last year most people have followed the advice of public health officials and simply wore masks and stayed home whenever possible. We have canceled college and professional sports, closed entertainment venues, and even worked from home. We have stayed home and kept visitations to a minimum and even attended church through electronic media. We stopped eating out, and have been careful to quarantine those exposed or that may be carrying the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Those of us living appreciate the cautions taken so our families may see the New Year.
In spite of the encouragement from the medical workers there are those who see this as a personal attack on civil liberties. My personal feeling is that this isn’t at all like the season when our women-folk burned their bras, but rather more like not caring if we spread the potential deadly sickness to all those we meet. We need to cooperate for the sake of those we love and others that we meet. Marshall Law has not been declared, but the restrictions are there to protect others.
In the old days, our parents were quick to remind us that dark clouds have silver linings, meaning we can find good even in the darkness of trouble, if we take care to look. Take, for example, that the arrival of this pandemic came just about the time when the world was developing the electronic age here-to-for unforeseen before now. When it became necessary to work from home many actually had the resources to make it happen. Schools closed, but most school districts were able to switch studies to work on laptops and smart phones that we simply didn’t have just a few years ago.
Another silver lining is that in many households the family dinner and game nights were rediscovered. The social networks have been established so we can stay in touch without anyone having to leave home. Retailers only just developed methods to place orders and await delivery. Others allow for ‘curbside pickup.’
Being told to stay close to home is restrictive and on the long-term, boring. Electronic development is helping us avoid what may have caused a new kind of depression, or loneliness, we used to call “cabin fever,” This was coined when we were snowed for a few days years ago. We can talk to anyone today, or play electronic games, watch movies until we can’t stand it, or order up a pizza. Life is different.
Frankly, we are better able to come out of this plague than we otherwise might have. Even so, it is not without cost. Some have lost jobs, while in other industries, shortages are making business difficult or impossible. The healthcare workers are working long hours at personal risk, while stores and shopping centers suffer losses in income due to fewer customers as well as empty shelves. Travel, food service and hospitably industries are hurting while others such as cleaning supplies are selling goods faster than they can make them. For sure, funeral homes aren’t lacking business but they may be overwhelmed or short on supplies. For a few lucky ones it may be a banner year, but for most it has been tough.
Consider, when we were growing up we didn’t have the advantages that are becoming so important to life, today. Back in the day, if we were sick, someone would have to try and get a doctor. Having a phone helped, but everyone didn’t have one back then. Doctor’s house visits were normal back in the day, but so were quarantines. Medicine didn’t have a lot of antibiotics until just before WWII. The doctor visits gave us hope but the tools to really do a lot of good were lacking. Today everyone has a phone in their pocket, but house calls have long ago stopped. With this pandemic even the waiting rooms are restricted. Walk-in services have stopped and become by appointment only and sometimes with a two or three day wait. One has to have an appointment to even get into a ‘first care’ facility.
Everyone is working hard to find solutions. Thanks to donations by people like Bill Gates and Dolly Parton, the first crop of inoculations are underway. We are being told now that even with these breakthroughs we will have even more infections and the death count will rise. I am told I am at risk of being in those numbers.
With the frustrations and pain of the old year we need to be prepared and ready to serve others. Some are suggesting more of the same in the New Year, but even this dark cloud will have a silver lining. In the meantime, be smart and avoid risks to yourselves and others as best you can. For each problem apply hope, prayer, and an ever positive outlook for whatever comes your way in 2021. Technology and faith will show us the way to enjoy and benefit. Try to be a blessing to someone today. Call a shut in. Ask to pick up something at the store for someone else when you have to go there for yourself. Send a card to let someone know they are missed and are appreciated. Try to that ray of sunshine that creates that silver lining on an otherwise dark cloud. Purpose with determination that you will have a Happy New Year!