Hello, 2021! You are SO welcome. Your predecessor was a bit dramatic for my tastes. In fact, I’m still so shell-shocked by 2020 that I’m going to hold off on giving 2021 the benefit of the doubt. None of the usual superlatives about how changing calendars means everything’s now better.

I feel a bit like someone who just broke up with a psychopath and hopes the next one I give a chance is even a little boring. Like every relationship, there are good moments stringing it along, and 2020 wasn’t ALL bad.

In the face of adversity like my generation had never seen, we realized new heroes among ordinary people just doing their jobs. We recognized the value contributed by our nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, paramedics and others who faithfully keep this machine running behind the scenes. We found moments of humanity in the selfless actions of people who rose to meet the needs of others by donating food or N95 masks to essential workers.

We got a healthy look at how we react under pressure, functioning at our best and our worst. We found connection through Netflix and realized the potential of technology to do things more easily. Our pets helped us fight loneliness and calm our anxiety. We have a greater appreciation for Sunday services and those visits with grandma and will no longer take a night out with friends -- or our ability to safely go to work -- for granted.

All of the sacrifices won’t be in vain if we learn valuable lessons from surviving these experiences.

New Year’s presents a chance to do a mental reset and assess where we are while celebrating the fact that we’re still above the ground for at least one more trip around the sun.

Two things I love about New Year’s are resolutions and predictions, because I like guessing what’s going to happen and setting goals to nudge my world in that general direction. My personal resolutions draw heavily from the archives, the standard stuff about getting healthier and finding more enjoyment out of life, etc. As I start my second full month as publisher of this proud newspaper, a lot of my goals and focus are directed at making The Times-Journal a success so we can add jobs and give our employees a good life doing fulfilling work. Producing the best possible community journalism we can while offering value to our readers and advertisers as we do our part to inform, entertain and enhance our quality of life.

As for 2021 predictions, I’m no Nostradamus, but let’s see…

• The COVID-19 vaccines will slowly restore normalcy to our lives, but it will require patience as doses are distributed this winter and well into the spring.

• DeKalb County industries will welcome immunizations for restoring more control and predictability to their operations as their global supply chains resume. Consumers will gradually feel more comfortable venturing out to shop in person, although those annoying masks will remain part of our lives for a while yet.

• By mid-summer, we could see the return of events that were canceled in 2020, including the Boom Days festival and at least some of the Third Saturday Sunset Cruise-Ins.

• Disinformation and the politicization of seemingly everything will continue to be a major issue dividing people. We will see for ourselves which election year conspiracy theories actually pan out or fall apart as fear-mongering. Congressional hearings may be needed just to settle on a shared set of facts on which to base reality as it shapes public policy.

A few quick, likely safe bets.

Cheers!

— Steven Stiefel is the publisher of the Times-Journal. His column appears in Saturday editions. Email: steven.stiefel@times-journal.com.

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