Why I Won’t Wish You A Happy New Year This Year

A clock is about to strike 2021 a ring in the new year. Text says "Happy?", to indicate the bizarre pressure to have a happy new year in the middle of a pandemic.

Why I Won’t Wish You A Happy New Year This Year

I get it. Most of us want to say a big fuck you to 2020.

A bear waving good-bye to 2020 as we all feel the pressure to have a happy new year in 2021.
Bye, bitch.

Others got a puppy, and it wasn’t the worst year of their lives.

A white woman in a yellow dress sits on a bench next to her golden-doodle puppy. An example of joy during difficult times. You don't have to wait for the pressure to have a happy new year to be happy.
You don’t have to feel guilty about finding joy during difficult times.

2020 wasn’t the year any of us expected, and maybe that’s the lesson. Maybe we need to say fuck you to our expectations and the idea that we have as much control as we think we do.

“Disappointment requires adequate planning.” –Richard Bandler

I’m probably preaching to the choir, because part of the gut-punch of an MS diagnosis is getting over the expectation of how you thought the rest of your life was going to be (not just the next year), and then figuring out how to pivot, and reinvent, and live your best life anyway. My life with MS is hard. Full stop. But, one of the best surprises of the past 20 years was discovering how much joy MS wasn’t able to steal from me.

A white woman wearing a grey sweater dress and knee-high boots stands on a sidewalk covered in leaves. She is using a stylish rollator from byAcre. She is smiling.
Surprise! I like my life!

Living without expectations

Living without expectations means being open-minded; being receptive to uncertainty, surprise, and wonder. It means going with the flow. Shit is going to happen whether we like it or not. Life is easier when decide we can roll with it, rather than be rolled over by it.

For me, living without expectations means making an effort to believe that, despite MS, all my best days aren’t behind me.

As much as most of us want 2020 to die already, remember that we all wanted to torch 2019 too. Even in the best of times, we don’t always recognize what’s good about our lives until it’s missing. As we flip the calendar and embrace a fresh start, the sobering reality is that in 2021 the proverbial slate won’t be wiped clean. The worst of what 2020 wrought isn’t over.

A calendar of wooden blocks marks the transition from 2020 to 2021 as we feel the pressure to have a happy new year, the blocks underscore that nothing much has changed
Same old shit.

The pressure to have a happy new year

I’m not convinced we’ve earned our 2021, but time marches on whether we’re ready or not. Yes, there is light ahead (way ahead), but there’s still hard work to do. There will be more restrictions, more confinement, more death well into 2021.

Wake me when it’s over

The possibility of impossible things

Nobody could have predicted what happened in 2020 (okay, Bill Gates, kinda predicted it). 2020 was a startling reminder that the unimaginable is possible. And if you don’t trust Gates and his doomsday prophecies, why not listen to an even bigger nerd–like 17th century super-scientist Sir Isaac Newton. This dude LIVED THROUGH BUBONIC PLAGUE, and proved that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Ergo, if a bunch of catastrophic, earth-shattering shit can go down, it must also be true that some wildly positive, if equally unfathomable things are possible.

According to Newton, we must accept the prospect that dogs can talk, Miss Vickie’s chips cure hiccups, Mindy Kaling and I are besties, and everything’s free at Sephora on my birthday. That’s science.

I won’t wish you a happy new year

I’m heading into 2021 embracing uncertainty and being open to possibility, without succumbing to the pressure to have a happy new year. I mean, the bar is pretty low for 2021 to impress me; but, who am I to say that I know my future and that it gets worse or better? The only plans I’m interested in making right now are little ones. Which book I’ll read next, what kind of cocktail I’ll sip tonight, which track pants I’ll wear to the living room. (Spoiler: the ones I slept in.) There’s something liberating about not having to think about a 5-year plan, or even a 5-month plan right now.

On the left, two sidecar cocktails sit on a table in front of a Christmas tree. On the right we see two Manhattan cocktails.
Sidecar or Manhattan? Why not both! It’s End Times!

The lesson of 2020 is one that those of us with MS already know: we can do hard things. As we move into 2021, let us think about the little things we can influence like our outlook and our efforts to keep each other safe. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Find joy in small things.

This guy gets it.

The pressure to have a ‘happy ’ new year feels a little ambitious right now, and even a little weird to say in the middle of a global pandemic. So, instead, I wish you a peaceful, safe, and healing new year; a 2021 that leaves room for the possibility of wonderful things we haven’t even imagined yet. Let’s hunker down and get cozy; it’s going to be a long winter.

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18 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Wish You A Happy New Year This Year

    1. I won’t change my past or present struggles

      Why because I learned so much about myself and
      Nova Scotias people in position

      Although, I have a Diagnosed Verbal Learning Disability
      Despite the fact Nova Scotia has NOT one disability Advocate confirmed by Gerry Post(Executive Director of Accessibility of N.S) and people in position think they can record whatever is they like even with NO supporting evidence?
      Years later my voice is finally being hear
      Why because I did NOT give up
      I am shocked of the people in position
      I become Disabled If legally people in position is NOT required to tell the truth ??
      I ??People in position do their JOB
      I have NO more time fixing ERRORS of others ??????✨?

  1. The Germans seldom say “Happy New Year” and never before the actual new year. They say Guten Rutsch, which translates to”Good Slide”, short for “have a good slide into the new year.”
    Less pressure–you don’t need to necessarily have a ‘happy’ year, just reach it.
    And considering the way you and I walk, it’s apt.♥️?

  2. Oh I have plans and expectations, just tempered with a good dose of contingency. I needed lots of that this past year and more through 2021 I think, but I am ready to roll with it. Have clear eyes and and a clear mind. I do intend to get the seeds for the large sunflowers planted this year! I need the flowers, the birds need the seed heads.

  3. Well said! ??
    Every day is a new day with its own storms, set backs, turmoils or frustrations. That’s our lives with MS. It’s a new year and yes we’re going to have the same bad days but somewhere in between we’ll remember to turn our frowns upside down and smile at the little things that make us happy.
    Happy New Day Everyday! ?

  4. Great post! Your words, again, ring loud and clear. Love having people like you to relate to on this journey we share ?

  5. Great post! Thinking and planning for small things, not big ticket plans or items has become the survival process that keeps me sane (for now!) I wish for you a blessed and safe 2021!

  6. I have a bad habit of trying to find the silver lining in every cloud. Conversely, I expect thunderclouds to appear when I am surrounded by silver.
    I got diagnosed with MS in a year when I finally got a satisfying job in Toronto and was able to buy my own house in a wonderful neighbourhood. My house faced a park, was a two-minute walk from Loblaws and was close to two public transit hubs. I got in a relationship with a pretty woman who I expected to marry. Two years later I was unemployed and had to sell the house that I could no longer afford. I am still single.
    But MS forced me to examine my life and how it was futile to save for a future where my disability might progress to the point of not being able to enjoy the things my savings would buy. So I lowered my expectations. I sold the two bedroom house where I expected to raise a family and downsized to a one bedroom apartment where I live alone. I spent the surplus money on cruises and comedy classes in New York & Los Angeles. I explored a career in comedy and left it because I couldn’t tolerate living with roommates while working in Starbucks. Now I am back to my previous career in the UK.
    2020 may have been the annus horribilis but it did force all of us to curb our consumption and stop laying waste to the planet. We discovered that we can work from home. Hopefully when this pandemic is over, we will have become accustomed to a less profligate existence and be able to make do with less consumption.
    However, I do miss being able to hug my friends and laugh with them.

  7. Teresa Creswell

    (Writing three days after witnessing an abominable battle in an ongoing coup attempt in my nation’s capital/Capitol… which successfully lowered any naive “Happy New Year!” dreams in a timely manner.)

    You are 100% right on.

    Sometimes I make lists of the things I LIKE about having MS: learning to live unrestricted by unrealistic and overly-prescriptive plans and expectations is near the top of those lists.

    Have you read “The Book of Joy” by the Dalai Llama and Desmond Tutu? One of the first tenets is that happiness is NOT the same as joy. Happiness is in a moment, or an hour, or a day. Joy is the wonder of watching the world unfold to us. Sometimes joy includes happiness. Sometimes it doesn’t. But it always involves deep and abiding inner peace and trust.

    I choose joy.

    And thanks for not wishing me a happy new year. It’s just too much pressure!

  8. You’re always my favorite wordsmith. Your 2021 outlook is spot on and I thank you for not shying away from it. If I didn’t have to go into work, I might also have the same spoiler of pjs worn into the daylight hours.

    My favorite quote that I’m considering making into art:
    “Life is easier when we decide we can roll with it, rather than be rolled over by it.” – Ardra

  9. I like the idea of living for today ..don’t drag yesterday with you and no big expectations for tomorrow ..yes it sucks that I can’t be the Nana I want to be but I’m a Nana none the less and retirement is awesome and I don’t have big expectations for 2021 and I’ve really had no problem hunkering down..???? hugs to all???I do miss those hugs.???

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