This God-Awful Year is Coming to an End, But There’s Some Good We Can Bring With Us Into the New Decade

A fresh start.


TKatrina Afterthoughtshis New Year’s Eve, I’ll be celebrating at home for the first time in more than a decade. It’s the one holiday that I’ve always spent with my high school friends, even long after we graduated and moved apart. It’s just not New Year’s without having dinner at Renee’s parents’ house, her mom handing us cups of cold soba just after midnight. And we always go to the temple in Pālolo the next morning for our blessing, oranges and written oracles. It’s funny how much of it turned out to be true (as, of course, fortunes and horoscopes always do in hindsight).


Even with the fatefully predicted “unexpected loss” in business, my year has actually been “Very Good,” as the oracle said it would be at the top of the thin folded paper. Different—so very, very different from what I’d imagined—but I’ve been surrounded by love, kept my health and found new ways to support others that also feed my soul.


I now regularly chat face to face with my friends who live in other cities during our virtual pau hana nights. We normally only get together in person once or twice a year with occasional group texts in the meantime, but we’ve had a handful of Google Hangouts sessions, each of us getting tipsy from our own alcohol stashes that have replaced cocktails at the bar while we catch up on each other’s lives.


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Illustration: Getty Images



Twice a month I go to the Kaka‘ako farmers market to pick up my Grok Coffee subscription, and I almost always come away with more than just coffee: local cheese, a tiny bouquet of flowers, a few kinds of honey, and a bottle or two of mead from Village Bottle Shop on the way home. Working from home means I finally get enough sleep on a regular basis, so I’m up and out the door before the market closes, which encourages me to shop local.


I’m walking more, which both energizes and calms me: the fresh air, blooming flowers flanking the sidewalks in yellow and purple, getting caught in a warm downpour, looking up to see clear skies and planets shining brightly.


These are all habits I’d like to bring with me into the new decade (I think we’d all like to go by the Farmer’s Almanac on this one, which says this decade didn’t start with 2020, the same way this century didn’t start with 2000, but with 2001. Look it up before you come at me). There has been so much fear, animosity, extremism, vitriol and negativity this year. That’s enough. It hasn’t fixed anything, so let’s leave the hate behind.


I know that our problems won’t magically disappear at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1. The rail project is still more than $1 billion over budget. COVID-19 will still affect our everyday lives for months. Racism is still very much alive. Work will always need doing. But the new year inspires reflection, goal setting and prioritizing how we want to live our lives.


I might not be playing board games with Renee’s family or hugging everyone in sight when the page flips to 2021, but I will be bringing with me a sense of gratitude for what I’ve gained these past few months. If we focus on the good instead of what we’ve lost, it’s bound to make things at least a little more bearable—for ourselves and others.


This story originally appeared as “Fresh Start” in the December 2020 issue of HONOLULU Magazine. Get your copy at and subscribe to the print and digital editions now.