New Year’s essays are often dull and forced and redundant. I wasn’t going to write one, nor was I going to make any resolutions, which can be much the same. But it’s hard not to give in to the very human impulse to mark the passage of time that January 1 represents. We all — every one of us — hope for something at the beginning of a new year. We hope for something more, something changed or something new, whether we recognize it in the form of a “resolution” or not.
My family did the same old things we always do to usher in a new year. We had a party, gathering with many of the same friends with whom we’ve celebrated more than a decades worth of New Year’s Eves. We ate too much (again), we played games (again) and turned on the TV in time to watch the Times Square ball drop in New York City (again). We toasted and hugged and kissed at midnight (again).
There was comfort in the “agains,” but it felt different this year. The New Year’s “hope” that’s usually so easy to muster, felt more elusive.
I just didn’t feel celebratory on the eve of the country I love inaugurating a president who represents the antithesis of hope to so many people here and the world over. We did not say goodbye to a normal year, nor are we welcoming one. Trump’s shadow looms large over everything.
“We can’t be that way,” my daughter said. “We have to have hope.”
Of course she’s right. I listened, the way I hope she listened to me the morning after the election when the whole family woke up shell-shocked (not that we really slept). I told her how sorry I was that the adults failed her. “Yours is the most tolerant, the most diverse and the most educated generation ever,” I said, knowing I was probably comforting myself more than her. “It’s not fair, but your generation will fix this.”
“We know,” my daughters both said. They’d already reached the same conclusion, whether they liked it or not.
No, it is not fair.
We cannot wait for their generation to leapfrog over ours and fix this mess we made. The work to fix it starts now, in 2017. Already, we’ve upped our subscriptions to credible newspapers and donated to organizations whose work is threatened. I’ve called my Republican representative to oppose the worst of Trump’s cabinet appointments and I vow to call more. On January 21, the day after the inauguration, we will march with thousands of other women across the country.
Where there’s love there’s always hope, and it’s in our house every day. It was filled to the rafters last night. There are signs the light is growing ever brighter against the darkness. In our community and across the nation, large groups of people are getting involved — many for the first time — in the effort to resist the bully Trump and the most conservative Congress since the 1920s.
There’s hope in that.
“I vow this year to do my part to cast aside inaction and inertia in the service of hope…It is a big world with many problems. Few are easily fixable and none of us can fix any of them alone,” wrote journalist Dan Rather on his Facebook page today. “Make resolutions to act in even small ways you can accomplish, and let us build from there.”
Fresh Tracks and the first Roadblock
I woke up three hours before the rest of the family this morning and went for a walk. A rare snow fell last night and the neighborhood was still and quiet as my dog and I walked down the street to the park. The world felt fresh under its unspoiled blanket of white, and I had the first tracks, a fitting metaphor for a walk into the new year, don’t you think? It gets better.
When I returned home, I noticed the city plow had used our street as a turn around. Rather than remove snow, it had brought more, dumping a large pile of snow (and asphalt from recent road work patches) in front of our driveway. We were blocked in.
There was no other choice than to shovel ourselves out.
I grumbled as I walked to the garage to grab a shovel, and then started to laugh as I recognized this for what it was: the first roadblock of 2017.
I shoveled every last bit out.
Bring it, 2017.