Many people are celebrating the end of this past year by being thankful that it's finally over. It seems that collectively 2016 was not the best year for everyone and most of us are all too glad to bid it farewell. Many well-known and influential celebrities passed away, most of them unexpectedly. People were disheartened by the election, as well as worn out and exhausted from the media coverage for the several months preceding the final results. Tragedies abounded throughout the world and in our own backyards and for most of us, 2016 was one of weariness, pain, and disappointment.
I get it. My own family was personally affected by many health issues, some dashed hopes, a few soul crushing disappointments, and one specifically recurring obstacle. Looking back, it was not one of our easier years overall. But to the people who are signifying the end of the year with GIFs that blow up the numbers and telling the year itself what it can do to itself through profanity, I have one thing to say:
HOORAY!!! WE MADE IT!!
We did! And it feels a little bit like a slap in the face to all of those beloved people, famous or not, who passed away during the past year who would gladly give anything; and I mean anything, to have gotten to live through the whole year like we did. They would have done literally any thing for one more day, one more hour, even one more minute - and here we are, focusing on all of the bad stuff that happened instead of being grateful that we're still here. We're still here to breathe, to smell, to enjoy, to embrace our loved ones, to walk, to dream, and to celebrate all of the exciting things that the future has to offer. Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher, Garry Marshall, David Bowie, Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson, Debbie Reynolds, George Michael, Prince...the list goes on and on and on...along with the other millions of people who were loved by families and friends who are no longer with us, don't get to do any of those things. Ever again.
And let's not forget either that while the bandwagon is saying that 2016 was just a bad year in toto, some terrifically fantastic things happened too. People fell in love, babies were born, students graduated, new jobs were started, spectacular music and films and art were released into the world, new homes were moved into, significant advances were made in the fields of science and medicine, new endeavors were explored, The USA rocked the Olympics, The Cubs won the World Series, Leonardo DiCaprio won an academy award, and Hamilton happened!! Not too shabby people.
And let us not also forget that we are living in a time of phenomenal progress. We have smartphones and washing machines, successful cancer treatments and memory care facilities, inexpensive home hair coloring kits, bluetooth speakers, electric lights and self-driving cars. And as Jef Mallet, the brilliant creator of the comic strip Frazz put it today: "But in the wider picture, especially if you remove anticipatory or imagined badness — i.e., fear and worry — I don’t know, it’s just hard for me to picture someone in 14th-century, plague-ravaged Europe looking at 2016 in some kind of time machine and thinking, “well, at least I won’t have to go through THAT sh*t.”
Gotta love some good old-fashioned perspective.
So yes, while 2016 was filled with what seems like more bad than good (our own nuclear family met its high medical insurance deductible by the first week of September), and while it may take some of us time to refresh and rebuild from the disappointments of the closing year, let's be thankful that we're still here to do that, let's count our blessings instead of our defeats, and let's look forward with hope and optimistic anticipation of what the beautiful shiny new year will bring.
Because no matter what happened yesterday, or last month, or last year, we are still here - to love, to wonder, to pursue, to laugh, to cry, to eat, to drink, to celebrate, and to LIVE.
Thank you 2016.