Photo By: Peng Wei from Unsplash

The precedent set by the past two years has many of us approaching 2022 with the same caution that you’d use to set a mouse trap. No sudden movements, don’t get too excited, there’s still time for this all to go terribly wrong. 

In 2021 “happy new year” was a way to say good riddance to the old year, just as much as it was a celebration of the new one. Things still seemed bleak, but at least, we thought, things couldn’t get much worse. Maybe, just maybe, things were going to get better. 

Now, with 2021 at its end, it might feel as if we’re right back where we started. Cases of COVID-19 are rising and with the omicron variant becoming the dominant strain it feels like you’ll be lucky to avoid catching it no matter how careful you are. 

Just like in March 2020, every time I check my phone there’s news of a new sporting event being cancelled, a game being postponed, a tournament shutting down. The concert tickets I optimistically bought in the summer are waiting to be refunded and we’re about to start another dark, dreary winter of going to class from my bedroom. 

The response from our leaders to this new wave has left a lot to be desired. In Ontario, students in elementary and high school were sent home for the winter break with rapid testing kits, but teachers were not. The kits were available to the general public for free, but the easiest place to get them was the LCBO and even then, they ran out almost immediately, only to end up being sold on secondary markets. The wait time for a free PCR test is weeks. Restrictions are being implemented only half of the way there; the government is making adjustments around the edges that don’t seem to add up until you remember what kind of activities make money. Go to a restaurant, sure, no questions asked, but think twice before a family dinner. 

2020 was bad, 2021 seemed to get better for a while, but now we end it in almost the same place we started. 

People are tired, some are reckless, some are scared. People are angry, people are frustrated. We all have to grieve. We have all lost things this year whether it be time, opportunities, or people that we loved. It hasn’t been easy and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to get much easier in the near future. It is difficult to hope for a new year, let alone a happy one. 

Still, what else is there to do but hope for happiness? 

We are still very much in this pandemic. No matter how much you might read the phrase, nothing we are doing is “post-pandemic” just yet. At this point, who knows if we’re even near the end? We need time to process all the things that have happened and continue to happen in such a short period of time. That means grieving, coming to terms with the fact that we did not experience the 2020 or the 2021 that any of us wanted to have. 

I do not hope for the best days in 2022. I think it would be unwise to hope for a miracle cure or for the virus to disappear with the changing of the date. Hope is optimism, not delusion. I hope for better days though, I hope things don’t get worse. It’s hope that means I can keep going, keep trying. If we hope that things don’t get worse, then we can try to make them better. It’s not stupid to hope for a happy new year. Happiness is not unreasonable, it’s not outlandish, it is not hard to achieve. 

When I say “happy new year” I mean that I hope 2022 can be happy, not all the time, but at least some of the time. I think we can manage that.