This time last year, it seems that most of us were grateful just to be breathing after living through the previous nine months of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives forever.

As we entered 2021, we believed that the worst was behind us. We had survived, at least.

A lot of us had figured out the 2020 work-from-home solutions, and even enjoyed the option of sleeping in a bit, maybe working in our jammies, and setting work hours at all hours that felt more relaxed.

While some parents set up their online-learning children for success, not everyone fared as well. Not all students succeeded at kitchen table classwork.

We became accustomed to shopping at our local grocery stores online and having our order delivered to the house just a couple of hours later. Amazon, FedEx and UPS delivery trucks were mainstays in neighborhood traffic.

Lack of socialization took its toll on many. Too much screen time inhibited play time outdoors. Team sports weren’t allowed. Enthusiasm waned. Depression settled in for many, of all ages.

But as 2021 rolled along, we were able and encouraged to get out more. We saw friends again, shopped in stores, went to dinner and to movies. Kids went back to school in their school buildings, played soccer and basketball. Churches opened their buildings for in-person worship once again. Theatres that had been shuttered for much of 2020 were able to allow patrons at half capacity.

By the end of 2021, much of life in our community had returned to somewhat normal. And thank goodness for that. The Hanukkah and Christmas holidays seemed normal enough, with parades and light shows galore.

As we geared up for New Year’s Eve celebrations last week, we heard plans for gatherings, popping of champaign corks, and fireworks at the stroke of midnight.

And now we’re just at the beginning of that New Year. What are our hopes for the coming months?

I’m hoping for more – and less.

I hope for more kindness and less griping. Somewhere along the way, many of us forgot our manners and small courtesies. Let’s get back to being the giving and forgiving souls that we know we can be.

I hope for more gratitude and less grumbling. We likely will never have as “much” as we believe we deserve, and that’s OK. Let’s focus on being grateful for what we do have, make the most of it, and figure out how to make it work.

I hope for more positive and less negative, and I don’t mean COVID tests. It’s almost as if we need a bit of a reset to get our brains recalibrated to see the good in other people, events and actions rather than automatically seeing the bad stuff.

I hope for more face to face meetings and less Zoom. Honestly, meeting with a group in front of my computer was stressful. Can you imagine two dozen 60-something former high school classmates on a screen at one time, trying to sing their alma mater? The only thing comfortable about that was the fact that I was probably wearing sweatpants with a reunion-suitable top. (Although the singing was atrociously funny.)

I hope for more inclusivity and less separation. We need to be cognizant that not all of our neighbors look like us, live like us, behave like us. Let’s celebrate our differences, and be open to an alternative viewpoint, style and flavor. Who knows what delightful characters we might meet? (Goodness knows there are plenty of colorful people in our community!)

Most of all, I hope for more inspiration and less isolation. Our Lowcountry is full of the first, in its environment and in its people. I intend to get out a little more and learn more about both. I hope you will too.