A Lost Year

Modified on: December 2, 2020

I received a personal message from an activist who lives many states away. This person does serious work, organizing movements and developing major funding, for cutting-edge social justice initiatives throughout the country, especially for racial justice, the political empowerment of every citizen, and LGBTQ rights.

“I feel like this is a lost year,” they wrote.

This person has achieved tremendous success with their work all year long, impacting all of our lives. This is not an exaggeration. And yet the weight of this year leaves them feeling as if time has evaporated and nothing has been accomplished.

This has been a hard year. It has asked a great deal of us all. The sentiment my friend expressed is one I hear in late night jokes, read on t-shirts, and hear in the course of many conversations.

And now, the winter holidays. These celebrations can be complicated for us even in the best of times. With the compounding weight of the pandemic, with the distance we must draw and the isolation we feel, they are that much more strange and complex. How can we celebrate?

We can celebrate with grief and joy. We are people capable of complex emotions. A question can have more than one answer.

The stories of our winter celebrations themselves—of Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s—are stories of people passing through darkness, sharing light to illuminate time and history. These are stories of kindness, hospitality, resilience, and joy—gifts we share with one another, to sustain each other through troubled times.

We tell these stories, we celebrate these festivals year after year, not only because they are a tradition. We tell these stories, we celebrate these festivals year after year, to practice for when it is our turn to share light in darkness.

Is this a lost year? A question can have more than one answer. This winter, we will pass through darkness. Let us grieve what we have lost—and let us celebrate.

Peace & joy at the turning of this year—


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