Perhaps I speak for a lot of us when I say New Year’s Eve has a whole new meaning this year. Instead of singing “Auld Lang Syne,” perhaps we play Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole’s fantastic version of “Unforgettable.” Although she was just a child when her dad passed away, producers played a video of him singing posthumously as she sang her part on stage. It was a beautiful rendition and extremely touching to watch. After she died the song remained a favorite of fans around the world.

There have been lots of jokes about staying up until midnight to make sure 2020 is really over! I doubt that Grandpa and I will be up much past the ball dropping in New York City but even that celebration this year will be quite different. Sorry Ryan Seacrest.

Forever the hippie Pollyanna, I choose to remember some joyful parts of this year, without forgetting the enormous issues and problems we are still facing. I am so very grateful for my love, my best friend and my soulmate, Grandpa, who for the last 38-plus years has been by my side and putting up with my goofy idea of living this life we have together. We have laughed more this year than ever before since we are in this together just about 24/7. He has always made me giggle, and this year I consider that a gift that keeps on giving.

The phone rings a little more often this year. People checking in and saying hello. Texts, emails and messages on Facebook are aplenty, and every day I look forward to seeing who is doing what to occupy their time as we go through this incredible time. Seniors who are retired are finding ways to communicate with others that perhaps were too busy to reach out in recent years. Some have told me of getting back into some exercise or hobbies that had gone by the wayside.

My ritual each morning starts with checking my email and calling my friend, Karen, in Nevada. We usually chat for about an hour and although not a lot has really changed much in our lives on a daily basis, we always have a lot to talk about each day. Then Grandpa and I do our video of a famous singer, and before you know it, the day is more than half over and it’s time to start the “what’s for dinner” conversation. Cooking for me has always been a pleasant necessity and not really a passion. I don’t bake as that ship not only sailed a long time ago, it sank! But for the last ten months, we have managed to eat and survive both my cooking and the repetition of most of my gourmet delights. That’s another thing I am grateful for in 2020: Grandpa’s acceptance of redundancy in the meal department without complaints.

Although Christmas Eve this year was quiet and the family did not gather here like they always have for the past 35 years, we were able to Zoom with them and say our hellos. My oldest granddaughter, Tiffany, arranged the meeting and it was great to see them smiling on my computer screen. Our oldest grandson, Justin, is here from Germany where he has lived for the past few years, and he started us off by asking what was the worst and best of the year for everyone. We all agreed that not seeing loved ones, both family and friends, was about the hardest, as well as the uncertainty of when this will end. The grandkids expressed concern about school from junior high to college and how they would love to get back to normal. I smiled thinking how many times they were glad it was Friday night and a whole weekend with no school but things are very different now for them. It hurts my heart that they are on hold but on the positive side they are safe and some are spending time with siblings. They all agreed that that was a good thing about 2020. I am thankful that most can telecommute for their jobs and remain at a safe distance from the exposure to the virus. That is a true blessing for them both health wise and financially. For every thing that I am thankful for, I know not to take any of it for granted. Each day is a gift that I share with anyone who will have me.

Too many Americans and others around the world are missing loved ones who have succumbed to COVID, but let’s look back with knowledge and optimism for the coming year. Let’s not lose ground now by letting our guard down too soon. There is hope for this Pollyanna on the very near horizon and with a smile covered by my mask, I look forward to the day when we can hug each other and ring in a lot more New Year’s Eves, together. We may still not get past the ball dropping at 9 p.m. here in California, but who knows? Stay safe and well.

Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at marla2054@aol.com.

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