By the end of 2020, it was hoped that the horrors of the annus horribilis were over. The vaccines were on their way, social life could resume, the loneliness would be dispelled. On New Years Eve, the young and the restless, the old and the jaded, had to stay home – sipping a drink alone, perhaps the pretext for a video chat party. Dreaming about parties, hugs and music, seeing friends again, many people had hope. It turns out that annus horribilis had a sequel, making it a depressing “new normal”. A year later, pretending is even more difficult.
A New Years party has become out of the question as contagion looms. Even the most laid-back “dinner and movie” was made impossible by Omicron. Conservatives and Puritans alike will welcome this ban. Even for those who are soaking up, it might be good to start the New Year without a hangover. And then, with so many people still feeling the effects of the pandemic, isn’t celebrating a New Year a bit selfish, even in bad taste?
The answer to these questions, the guilt balm that people can feel in having fun, is simple. Life under Covid has been constant oppression and a drink, a song, a little dancing, even a good conversation can bring relief. Before the pandemic, in good and bad years, the celebration was not that of the past year but that to come, to put the past in its place. And, no doubt, to strengthen people to face the suffering that is sure to follow. But in the most difficult years that humanity has faced in recent memory, the vent safety valve has been taken away from us by disease and blockages. Yet, dear readers, we enter the New Year with the hope that by the end of 2022 we can all raise a toast together.