This has been a frustrating, difficult year on many levels. The relentlessness of global news, politics, tragedy and the scourge of a pandemic that has killed some 1.5 million people around the world and is still preying on us gives us little time to stop, smile and breathe.
In tandem with these realities is the incessant barrage of thoughts and images in the media as well as those posted by many we know and don’t know streaming into our brains through our devices. They have taken their toll and keep doing so. In 2020, the world has been so much for us to handle.
As we approach a New Year, these thoughts inspired an idea. Most of us have talked ad nauseum about what makes us anxious, depressed and tense. Let’s focus on what we hope for in the coming year to dwarf those concerns. Despite the inevitable catastrophes we can’t control, we look forward to better days ahead. We’re not wishing for things like an exotic trip to a far-off land—yet—or some blingy piece of jewelry. We’re still concerned about hopping on a plane, and we have no place to wear jewels now or probably ever. Instead, many of our wishes are more modest in dollars and grounded in good sense, hopes for us and others and some also huge in scope.
We’ve limited ourselves each to 10 and asked some of our readers what they hope for. Here’s what we all had to say.
- See family and friends in person and hug and kiss rather than only view one another on Zoom calls or from 6-feet apart and to do so regularly and have everyone be with their loved ones for important milestones and holidays as well as ordinary days;
- Get my hair blown dry by a professional rather than have it look the curly mess it’s been for the last 10 months--and counting;
- Go out in public without wearing a mask and be able to see people’s entire faces and smiles rather than just their eyes and eyebrows and have them see mine and yours;
- Have the coronavirus vaccine become widely available and distributed throughout the world, first to those who need it most and for free;
- Have my favorite restaurants and shops—and yours--hang on longer until everything returns to normal, so there are no more closings or layoffs;
- Be able to travel again without fear about our seatmate on the train, bus, plane or car, whether it’s a road trip up to “Anne of Green Gables” country in Newfoundland or to Chicago to give a talk in person rather than by Zoom and to see friends, or finally get to my long desired destination of Normandy beaches and another visit to Paris;
- That somehow those with widely opposing political views can talk, listen to each other and even be friends again, or at least be civil without raising the decibel level, and that everyone will wish Biden and Harris well so they can accomplish real changes for everyone rather than just their constituents. Although we’re one nation, we’ve had a difficult time understanding one another’s emotional and political languages. Let everyone come to a consensus on one language and one mindset, including that differences are tolerated but in a kindly fashion;
- That we replace anger and anxiety with laughter, love, kindness and joy;
- That I keep learning new skills—to snap better photos, make my rose garden bloom more, learn to make croissants effortlessly, run a 5-K with my daughters, take more watercolor paint classes in new places with some of the teachers I know and maybe a new one or two and master not being afraid of new tech stuff;
- That everyone has a good roof over their head, warm blanket; healthy good food in their tummies and good medical care at a price they can afford; these seem unalienable rights.
- I don’t like to sound like I’m running for Miss America—it’s a little bit too late—but I wish for world peace or at least getting closer to this goal. I know this sounds cheesy. Sorry Sandra Bullock who made fun of this in her movie, Miss Congeniality;
- Going to concerts with live music and dozens to thousands of fans experiencing the music together. Nothing can replace a live performance in a concert hall with great acoustics or a small and intimate jazz club;
- Seeing the kids I tutor able to go back to school without fear of getting sick. My hope is that during the pandemic with schools closed and remote learning the only option, those kids who didn’t have the money and advantage of participating in learning pods, couldn’t access consistent and good Wi-Fi and had to share equipment with the whole family, can get caught up and back on track;
- Tutoring kids once again in person, one on one. Doing it virtually just isn’t the same. There are too many distractions in some homes. Siblings fight, there is the noise of family conversation in the background or the banging of pots and pans. In a virtual session, there is no opportunity to really help them sit still and I find I cannot be as creative with my lessons offering funny bits, treats, incentives and stickers for good work. Nothing can replace the personal interaction;
- New job opportunities and homes for all. I hope that those who have been out of work will find jobs as our economy ramps up. No one in this country should go hungry, have to decide whether to eat, pay the rent or buy medicines;
- I miss taking public transportation as in the subway to get where I need to go. There is something so exciting about being a recent New Yorker, running through the stations to get to the train and riding with fellow NYC strangers, climbing the stairs and coming out into the street near a destination. I’ve also found that taking public transportation is a great way to meet new people;
- Doing hands on volunteer projects during holiday time such as making blankets or cookies for homebound seniors or helping assemble meals for the homeless;
- Taking a class or attending a lecture in a classroom with a live professor or speaker rather than learning on a screen. I find it awfully difficult to focus for more than 30 minutes on a Zoom. It’s also so distracting when there are 20 faces on the screen. It’s too temping to look around at everyone else rather than concentrate on the speaker;
- Going into a library and checking out a book, browsing the stacks, doing research or just sitting at a quiet table and reading. I also appreciate the free tech classes. There is no substitute for holding and searching for a real book rather than doing it digitally…and I do read eBooks. I miss the smell, the comfort and the calm of a library;
- I do not like exercise, but shortly before the pandemic, I discovered Pilates. I only made it to four sessions. I actually kind of liked it and met some new women. I know that going back will mean starting from ground zero and taking it slowly. I was afraid to do it virtually without someone standing over me telling me how to do the movements correctly to avoid a possible injury.
And here’s what others had to say:
Toby, Columbus, Ohio
I wish for the time that the masks can come off. My life is all about storytelling and storytellers. Not to be able to see the mouth that is telling the stories and not to hear the clear, unmuffled voices of the storytellers is a huge loss. People don't want to talk as much and can't express themselves as well in a mask.
I wish we can go back to the days when we don't have to overthink all that we are doing - have I touched a germ? can I hug that mourner? who touched the gas pump last?
Did they really clean the shopping cart or do I need to stop and do it again? Should I choose the apple on the top or get one that no one else has fingered?
Beth, Charleston, S.C,
To go back home to a normal New York City. Also, to see all my family, especially my mom who Is suffering from isolation in assisted living, and also see all my friends.
What everyone is wishing for this year: a vaccine in my arm ASAP.
My wishes for 2021: Freedom to travel, visit friends and not to be judged. Spend time watching my grandchildren grow and prosper. More time.
Andi, Ladue, MO
I wish for the following:
- End COVID-19
- End the collective and individual hatred, rage and bullying in this country
- End gun violence
- Win the Senate back
- Biden and Harris to have good health and safety
Not necessarily in that order.... They are all important!!
Sally, Creve Coeur, MO
My wish is always the same every year. Good health and happiness are my yearly wishes. This year I want to add Peace to all. I think that’s a universal wish we all have. It’s a simple set of wishes but ones I believe in.
Susie, Wildwood, MO
Looking forward to leadership that will guide us through this terrible pandemic.
We know that 2021 will not be a panacea. And when things upset us this year that we cannot control, we say mix a drink or pour yourself a glass of wine, download a fun TED talk, turn off the news and lose yourself in the moment. The reboot begins today.