Last year, just before New Year’s Eve, my family and I went to Garden Lights Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. There was a s’mores station and the orchid house had beautiful red poinsettias and Christmas lights throughout. Our family thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this wonderful display of Christmas lights. It reminded us, once again, that Jesus came to be the light of world. I thought seeing those lights would set the tone for the new year. Further, I thought 2020 would bring many blessings and, for me, it really did.

None of us ever knows what the new year will bring and 2020 certainly was no different. A global pandemic with a staggering number of people sick with COVID-19 and an alarmingly high number of people who died from the virus. Yet another consequence of the pandemic was unemployment. Our nation had more unemployed people, as a result of the pandemic, than there were during the Great Depression. The pandemic imposed a shutdown on us and businesses struggled to survive.

A spirit of joy

In spite of my concerns these days, it is with a spirit of joy that I focus on the many things for which I am grateful. My family and friends have been safe and well. Although we were exposed to the dreaded virus, none of us got sick. That is, until the husband of a friend of ours passed away last month from the virus. It came as a shock and our hearts ache for our friend.

As many of you know, I am a litigation paralegal. My coworkers and I have been very thankful that we did not lose our jobs to the pandemic. The law firm we worked for kept the doors locked, all appointments were conducted by phone, and we observed social distancing. My son and daughter and their families live in Atlanta and they all work in high tech careers. They are currently working from home. Together, as a family, we are exceedingly thankful that we all have jobs.

New job, new book

I continue to be a litigation paralegal and two weeks ago I began working for a different law firm. I am very thankful for this new opportunity as well as for my salary, which is significantly higher than what I previously earned.

Earlier this year, I set a goal for myself of publishing my second book. A compilation of 42 of my columns that were previously published in the Rome News-Tribune, “Write Now” was published two weeks ago and I am very excited about that.

Although our nation is struggling, there is hope. Americans, while we look forward to happier times, are helping each other through these difficult days. When the pandemic is over, we will go to church, and to dinner with family and friends. We will go to a Braves game, concerts, family gatherings, birthday parties and class reunions. In fact, I am optimistic that the long awaited East Rome High School ’70s Decade Reunion, which was postponed because of COVID-19, will take place the last weekend in April. I am really looking forward to that, as well as to a family reunion I organized for June. We will appreciate those opportunities when we can be together once again and will never again take those opportunities for granted.

My 2021 theme

Every year, as many of you know, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I choose a theme for the new year. My theme is designed to inspire me in the forthcoming year. For instance, I am a survivor. When life throws lemons at me, I scoop ‘em up and make lemon meringue pie. That gave me the idea for my 2021 theme. “Thrive, don’t just survive!” That theme will inspire me to do precisely that.

Goodbye 2020

Tonight we say goodbye to a dreadful year. As we usher in 2021, we would do well to continue taking good care of ourselves and our families. We should look out for our friends, and continue helping our communities, and look for better days in 2021.

I anticipate those better days will soon be here. Happy New Year y’all!

Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a writer, an avid cyclist, history enthusiast, and ardent reader of Southern fiction. She is the author of a new book, “Write Now.” Readers may email her at pamterrellwalker@gmail.com.

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