By practically every measure, 2021 has turned out to be the worst since the turn of the millennium. We were confronted with a slew of challenges, starting with the most obvious: the COVID-19 pandemic, which is appearing to be a persistent threat and one that might never be eradicated. This, followed by massive wildfires, political unrest, chaos within our communities and politicians who appear to care less about the people and more about themselves have made this trying year into one that will be remembered and studied for generations to come. However, despite the treacherous year we have had to endure, there is still plenty to be hopeful for during this Christmas.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the meaning of Christmas — the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ — as well as the time of its observance. As the year draws to a close, Christmas is an ideal time to reflect on the year that has come to pass.
What began as a day primarily dedicated to commemorating the birth of the Christian Savior has evolved into a secular holiday of sorts — a celebration of family and a time of self-discovery, both in the context of one’s self and of us all. Mortality, destruction and financial ruin have been the result of this historic year. However, at this time of year, the decaying ash is transformed into a melancholy blanket of snow, and all that was bad appears to mature into a shiny, white glimmer of hope. We can seek refuge with our families beside the fireplace, experience this time of peace and serenity and discover the hope that lies beyond the fireplace. We express our thanks to our loved ones for their presence, and our savior — or good fortune — for our survival, and we look forward to the future in the hopes that it will be brighter than the past.
It is still possible to be hopeful for the future despite the tragic circumstances that we have all come to experience this year. Many incredible news stories go unreported, are underreported or simply pass us by because we have become numb to the good that exists in the world. Examples include the discovery of a massive reservoir of water on Mars, which scientists believe could indicate the presence of life on a planet that has the potential to aid in the spread and survival of the human species. What about reports of new technology that is being created that would allow a person to be diagnosed with a sickness just by breathing into a machine? In addition to this, let us not forget about the plethora of technology that is being invented and launched almost every single day that makes our lives easier.
Within this news, and the many stories that we each individually discover, we find hope.
Hope is both a mirror of the past and a forecast of the future. To hope is to wish for a better tomorrow despite the perilous circumstances of one’s present and past. We have been through a terrible year — in fact, a terrible two years — in which many loved ones have died, many businesses have shuttered and many people have lost faith. But, despite everything, so many people have had the courage to keep on in the hope of a better future. After all, why shouldn’t they? We live in a world that offers limitless opportunities and a plethora of options for achieving success as well as coping with loss and failure. We can use all of these to overcome the insurmountable and to become the impossible.
It is essential to be with our most cherished friends and family members even in times of sorrow and hopelessness since Christmas provides us with the opportunity to come together and hope for the future. Whatever it is that we are thankful for, we can all find something that will aid us in pressing on in our future endeavors. I say, identify that sliver of hope that you have left, whatever it may be, and utilize it to propel yourself toward the future that you desire. Of course, there are no guarantees, but if you want even a semblance of normalcy after what we have all collectively experienced, you must take the risk and go on a quest to find it. But I assure you that there is a way forward. If you put forth any effort, you will learn that there are green pastures ahead.
I am certain that there are many who see the challenges that lie ahead and give up before they can even start. But I urge any person who thinks that they are not strong enough to continue forward and believe in yourself. Every day is a new beginning, and for many of us, we only have so many beginnings left; use them carefully, press on and you might just find what you’re looking for.