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Dear 2021

| Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Dear 2021,

I’m writing you a bit early this year, so forgive me. You cannot blame me for wanting you to come with all haste. It would be a yawning redundancy to recount the distresses of 2020 to you. Few, if any, could have predicted the extent to which the entire globe would be riveted by general social and political unrest, the clutches of the pandemic and lives that we lost globally and here on our beloved campus. We even had a blue moon on Halloween. Would it surprise anyone if I told you I saw the silhouette of witches fly across it as well that night? Probably not.

But in all seriousness, I am writing to you because I feel that you will be one of the most important years in recent memory. I know. I sound like every alley prophet in the days of Shakespeare’s England, prognosticating doom from the dusty scraps of paper they swore spoke the future to them. Everyone always seems to be saying we are on the edge of history, but this time it seems like they might be right. I am writing to you as one of the most important presidential elections is taking place, an election with the ability to extensively change who you will be depending on who wins. I always begin every year with a childlike anticipation of the sheer size of the days and possibilities ahead. The first days of January always feel like anything is possible, like the opening act of a play that was acted majestically and you know the main act will be even better. I do not know if I can say I hold the same excited anticipation for you, but maybe the fact that I am writing to you at the start of November betrays my hand. The fact is that I am anticipating the joys you will bring with the firm hope that the sorrows will not match the year-long winter we are presently weathering.

I am not writing to you as a bitter senior ruing that their last year was stolen by the pandemic. But I will tell you that it felt hard to feel Irish at times this year. I’m not talking about the sea of empty seats at the football games (I am thankful that we had football in any capacity this year), the emptiness of LaFun, the plexiglass dividing us at the dining halls. I am talking about the general feeling of hollowness within the faces of my friends that you could tangibly feel even behind our shamrock-dotted masks. If I have learned anything in my near four years at my beloved university, I know that the resolve of the Fighting Irish is tenacious. One of my classes this semester takes me past the stadium three days a week, and I am greeted by legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne’s nearly flawless record every time I walk by. I hope that you remind me what it means to feel Irish and that I will finish my university education with the same tenacity that Notre Dame lives and breathes.

Whatever you bring, 2021, and I hope that it is some form of normality, I hope that you will bring it with basic human decency. I hope that we can heal the wounds that 2020 wrenched open (or, more properly, longstanding issues that 2020 brought back into the forefront of our dialogue). I hope that whoever loses the election concedes power to the victor and chooses not to strain American democracy any further than it has been up until this point. I also hope you bring de-politicization of basic human necessities. Saving lives and wearing our masks should not be political, and I hope you remind us of that.

I know that you are still in hibernation, and I hope that 2020 does not hear me writing this in the other room. We still have two months to go before your arrival, but I can hear your far-away call. I hope that your entry is strong and yet full of grace. I hope to greet you as you enter the door, welcoming you as an old acquaintance and inviting you inside to get warm as the snow swirls around your frame. We will say goodbye to 2020 at that time, watching as its footprints become gradually filled with snow, but we must not forget the frost that we endured during this time. But if it so happens that 2020 was a prologue of sorts; if you will not bring spring but rather 12 more months of winter, then I have a warning for you.

Here come the Irish. Godspeed.

Gabriel Niforatos is a senior majoring in political science with minors in the Hesburgh Program in Public Service and Theology. He is passionate about giving a voice to the disenfranchised and writing is the muse he is persistently chasing. He can be found at [email protected] or @g_niforatos on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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