Editor’s Page: Welcome to 2021

The world might not be much different on Jan. 1, 2021. But will we be?


Editors Letter Jan 2021 New Year Eve Chalk

A colorful start to 2020. Photo: Christi Young



What can be said about the end of 2020? Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 of every year, we’re inundated with retrospectives to the last 12 months in world news. Dictionary.com selected pandemic as the word of 2020 while readers picked unprecedented. Oxford English Dictionary declined to name a single word, citing the hyper-speed that we all gained new vocabularies this year: doomscrolling, lockdown, bubbles or pods, BLM, COVID-19.


We spent the spring glued to our screens, marking the moment daily case counts dropped and engaging in exhausting and mind-bending conversations about the amount of risk involved in running to the store, seeing our family or going to the park. In the early summer, we were returning to life outside our homes, in groups larger than five, when the number of cases sent us scrambling back inside. We redid the rooms in our homes that were now driving us crazy, learned which corner was most Zoom acceptable, gardened, baked (or went on mad hunts for yeast), rediscovered ways to get everything delivered, lost track of weekdays and went a little crazy. When I read back through my Editor’s Letters and stories on honolulumagazine.com and honolulufamily.com from the past year, I can see myself ping ponging from frustration to humor, moments of bleakness to inexplicable glee—including the time I ran into Frolic co-worker Kelli Shiroma Braiotta after months of working from home and, in slightly maniacal overexuberance, started yelling her name and babbled at her for a full five minutes. Even as I write this, I’m sending messages to managing editor Katrina Valcourt about how to write a post that is not too bleak nor too blindfully optimistic.


Editors Letter Jan 2021 Selfie 2

Our version of office fun included a co-worker selfie, from more than 6-feet away. Photo: Christi Young



I think 2021 has to leave us with a bit of both. After an unusually quiet holiday season (I’m referring to parties, not the illegal fireworks I still hear blasting through my neighborhood), I’m focusing on refreshing, resetting and marching into 2021 with as much optimism as I can muster. In our August issue, HONOLULU Magazine tackled the idea of how Hawaiʻi should emerge from the year that has upended so many of our constants, and I asked myself what changes I’ve made that I should continue indefinitely: experimenting with new local ingredients, giving consistently to Hawaiʻi nonprofits, shopping as much as possible at truly locally owned businesses. After outbursts of “COVID sucks” from my 10-year-old after a disappointing day, we began intermittently going around the table, listing the things we never would have done if this had been a normal year. So far, the top of the list has been finding an egg on a ledge in our backyard and setting up a webcam so we could watch it from the moment it hatched until the baby bird was big enough to fly away. Slightly stalkerish, I admit, but very uplifting.


Editors Letter Jan 2021 Bird

Our tweenage bird just before it flew the nest.


What did 2020 look like to you? We are looking for photos from Hawaiʻi during the past year to feature in an upcoming issue that looks back at a year of a pandemic. Strange moments in city life, heartbreaking challenges, uplifting moments with friends, all of it tells a story. Email your image of at least 350 dpi to info@honolulumagazine.com.


We can’t control much of what is happening around us, but little things will be what gets us through. So, don’t downplay the unexpected moments that punctuate our days. Amp them up. And laugh as much as you can. Sometimes it’s as simple as typing in all caps. Sometimes, all it takes is mocking your old school photos with friends (anyone else had a perm? Just me?) or making others watch a bad movie that you typically would not admit you love.


It’s a new year and technically, as Katrina often reminds us in the office, 2021 actually marks the beginning of a new decade. So here’s to looking ahead and here’s to you.


Here are some of the other small moments that brought me joy in 2020: