When the clock struck midnight on Dec. 31 last year, it would be the understatement of the year to say that the world had no idea what was to come. By March, here in Northern Virginia, we—along with the rest of the nation—were experiencing a once-in-a-century pandemic. Businesses and schools shuttered, drive-through everything became the norm, and as holidays approached, we all started looking at how to celebrate while staying safe. And now, as we close out the year, it looks like New Year’s Eve will be added to the list of socially distant holidays. The iconic First Night celebration in Old Town Alexandria, for instance, is pivoting from its annual outdoor block party to a drive-in concert experience (which can also be streamed virtually), while other NYE events are expected to modify celebrations as well. New Year’s Eve has always been a holiday to mark time—to think about where we’ve been and where we’re going. The love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions fills the forthcoming year with promise as we all vow to be better and do better. This year, there has been no shortage of memes and think pieces about how we can’t wait to finally put this year behind us. And as we finally get to the finish line on 2020, we know it won’t look the same as it did last year. But what we do know is that, like every other big and small occasion in 2020, family and friends will find a way to come together (even if only on the ever-present Zoom) to mark the end of one of the wildest years in modern history—and look toward a more hopeful future.
(Photo: First Night Alexandria by J. Clifford for Visit Alexandria)