We look forward to New Year's Day and the clean...

We look forward to New Year's Day and the clean beginning it represents. Credit: ISTOCK

As 2021 ends, we hope 2022 will be better — for Long Island, the country, and the world.

It is becoming something of a custom for those who make New Year’s predictions. The pandemic year of 2020, full of anxiety, danger, and political strife, seemed like it had to have a better successor. But 2021 comes to an anticlimactic, fairly depressing close, with a big year-end spike in COVID-19 infections in Nassau and Suffolk as around the globe, driven by the omicron variant.

Plenty of families had to rejigger holiday plans at the last minute and were reminded of 2020’s social distancing frustrations, or worse — a fitting end to another year of disease. It also was a year of disturbing weather — from wildfires and heat to downpours and tornadoes, with no end in sight for the cataclysms a warming climate could bring. It was another 12 months of stasis in Washington, more or less, with little indication that fundamental change is on the horizon.

The year has been exhausting. How can things not improve in 2022?

We have no crystal ball or special future vision on that front. But we do know that the previous year has looked bad in New York many times before. The ends of Decembers during World War I and II, throughout the Great Depression, after the Sept. 11 attacks — so many must have been wishing, and dreaming, for change.

And we do know that change comes. This is the beauty of New Year’s. It celebrates a certainty, as long as we are alive to see it: that the earth turns and one year transitions to the next. The celebration of a clock ticking down is more about togetherness than anticipation. It is all about hope, not the hope that a new year will come, for it will, but hope that it will be one worth celebrating.

This is optimism incarnate, an optimism built into this moment in our yearly calendars as well as our spirits. It is the human condition to be optimistic, to overlook the dark moments even in the midst of war or pandemic or deprivation, even when so much in view is bleak.

In the same way that spirits rise with daylight, even if everything looked absolutely lost the night before, we look forward to New Year’s Day and the clean beginning it represents — clean other than whatever headaches or fatigue we’ll be suffering, on account of celebrating a little too much the night before in whatever way we can.

As always, there is much to celebrate. Who knows what next year will bring?

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.

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