I know, I know, we’ve been through so much in 2016. And technically speaking, since pandas are in China, this didn’t happen in 2016 but in the Chinese year 4714. But still– while we were cursing 2016, the lovable snuggly cow bear was taken off the endangered species list.
Thanks be to God.
And in June of this year, the WHO declared that the ebola pandemic was over.
Thanks be to God.
Global annual terrorism deaths are down 10%, thanks be to God.
Marvel came out with what is, in my opinion, their best movie yet. Thanks be to God.
Now, many of us have been through hell this year. Absolute hell. We had the election of Manitos Cheetos; we all watched the horror in Aleppo and terrorist attacks throughout Europe; I don’t think I’ll ever stop being sad about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. If I knew anything about eighties music I’d be devastated by the deaths of all the eighties music stars and even though I don’t, I’m sad for their fans and I pray for their souls. It has been a rough year.
On a personal level, nothing’s going to top losing Kreed; I will never forget his beautiful heart, and I will never think that the way he left us was okay.
Also on a personal level, this was also the year the bullying and snobbery of the local gentry finally made me flee the Latin Rite altogether. In fact, though I didn’t know it that miserable day, this depressing post chronicles the very last time I ever went to a Latin Rite Mass. Yes, I discovered the beauty of Byzantine Catholicism, so God turned it into a good thing, but it doesn’t make the things that happened in the first half of the year nice. They were awful things by awful people in an awful, scary, heartbreaking time. 2016 was a rough year.I don’t think it’s very good for mental health to try to force a feeling of gratitude under any circumstances, and especially not when you’re miserable. I’ve seen a lot of suggestions going around, for how to induce gratitude– fill a jar full of scraps of paper with things you’re thankful for written on them; cover a window in sticky notes with names of your blessings jotted down on each. But to me, those suggestions seems like they’d backfire horribly. If I went to my thankfulness jar or Post-it-note window while feeling miserable, I’d be made more miserable by the fact that I couldn’t muster any thankfulness on command.
In my opinion, it’s better to just permit yourself to be miserable when you’re miserable. A lot of miserable things have happened lately. This is a fallen world, and there’s plenty to mourn. Mourn as long as you need.
But it’s also legitimate to want to help yourself cheer up. And even though life is agonizing so much of the time, there are many cheerful things in this world. Even in 2016. Pandas. Dropping terrorism and pollution levels. Byzantine Catholicism. Doctor Strange.
Let’s be honest about all of our experiences. Let’s raise a glass of New Year’s champagne to giant pandas and Doctor Strange. Let’s mourn our dead, acknowledge our hurts, forgive our nasty neighbors and resolve to not let them get us down in the coming year. Let’s spit on the electoral college and mock the whole system from sea to shining sea. Let’s pray for a better year.
I do pray that all my readers have a much better year. Someone’s going to pop into the combox and tell me that’s a vain hope, but I hope for it none the less. And I pray that, whatever happens, we’ll face it together with courage and never lose our thirst for justice or our sense of humor.
As I’m typing this, it’s 2:30 in the afternoon. Nine and a half hours, and we’ll all have made it through.
Cheers to us for making it through. Cheers to a better time. Cheers to auld lang syne and to whatever’s to come.
And cheers to giant pandas.
Thanks be to God.
(image via Pixabay)