Has there ever been a year people were happier to see end more than this one?

Obviously, things aren’t going to be magically better once the clock strikes midnight on Friday.

But the dawn of a new year always brings with it a certain amount of hope for better things ahead.

And boy, we need hope right now almost as much as we need additional doses of the vaccine.

Hope, but not ridiculous expectations.

Let’s face it. The pandemic doesn’t have an off switch. Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that even with the vaccine gradually being distributed, the virus is likely to be part of our lives well into 2021.

He’s right.

And if it turns out a large number of self-centered people refuse to stay home and choose to party this season like it was 2019, then a lot of 2021 may end up looking just like a lot of 2020.

Judging by the post-Thanksgiving surge we’ve barely gotten through, that seems sadly likely.

Fingers crossed and hands folded that things don’t turn out that way.

This week, The Daily Item will be spending some time looking back at the many major events of 2020 — the virus, of course, as well as the election and the social justice movement and more.

We’ll also, as usual, look ahead to what could be the major developing stories of the coming year, with full knowledge none of us can really know.

Besides all that, leading into the new year, we are presenting our annual series of stories titled  “People Who Made a Difference.”

Those stories, which began on Christmas Eve and continue through New Year’s Day, take a look each day at the kind of people who have stepped up in this most challenging year.

These are the people that make life better here and the ones that give us some of the hope we so desperately need.

If there is reason for hope in 2021, it will be because these people and so many others who have worked relentlessly to pull us through 2020 will still be with us refusing to give up.

If there is a reason for hope in 2021, it will be because at least some of us have learned important lessons in the past year.

Lessons like:

• There’s no room for complacency and taking things for granted. Like Joni Mitchell sang in Big Yellow Taxi: 

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”

• Our families and friends are more important to us than many of us ever realized.

• The people who work to keep us safe and healthy deserve more appreciation than we’ve previously given them.

• Simple things like gathering with friends, going to a ballgame or a concert, going to church on Sunday and having a family barbecue are the real stuff of life.

• We really need to be there for each other and think about others more than we think about ourselves.

• Just because we disagree with someone doesn’t mean they have to become our enemies. 

Here’s hoping we’ve learned at least most of those lessons. Here’s hoping it won’t take another world-wide catastrophe to hammer those lessons home.

On behalf of all the people who work here at The Daily Item, let me wish you all a much better, healthier and happier year in 2021.

One full of lessons learned and people appreciated.

Email comments to dlyons@dailyitem.com.

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