Without a doubt, 2020 will go down in history as one of the most traumatic years of our lives. As we approach 2021, there is nothing we would have loved more than gathering to eat, drink, sing, dance and be merry while letting out some therapeutic curse words as we bid farewell to the year from hell. Yet, for our own safety, we must refrain from all things overly communal. Despite these restrictions, finding ways to process this year is essential to our wellbeing in the coming year and subsequent years to come. So, whether with the ones we’ve been quarantined with or virtually, let these methods help be a catalyst to clear our heads and put us in a posture of expectation as we enter into 2021.
1.Participate in Acts of Remembrance
300,000 people and counting died from Covid-19 with a disproportionate number of those deaths affecting the black community due to centuries of their basic health needs being unmet. In addition, the pandemic of racism, ever-present in this nation since 1619, made yet another bold display of its favorite pastime of hunting down, assaulting and killing black citizens thus, causing a global uproar in support of black lives. As the sting of these untimely deaths have forever altered our lives, we must remember.
Acts of remembrance help us make meaning and they help us heal and learn from the past. In other words, if the past has caused us great pain and left us physically and emotionally dismembered, we remember to re-member our broken hearts, bodies and souls. So, whether you light a candle and reflect with a moment of silence, share stories of specific people and events that impacted you this year or vow to support just causes with your time and resources, we remember to find peace and move on with hope.
2.Host a Ruins Party
Facilitated by two cast members of my favorite guilty pleasure reality show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, (Season 12) the essence of a Ruins Party is to air out, in community, the grievances various members of a group have with one another. After everyone talks and works things out, they are to throw their drama into the metaphorical ruins and in return revive their friendship.
Adapting it to the moment at hand, a quarantine Ruins Party involves writing down your greatest letdowns and setbacks of 2020, sharing them out loud, tearing them up and reviving yourself by naming the lessons learned and overall surprising good that has come from those letdowns and setbacks .
3.Attend or put on a Watch Night Service
Watch Night is a tradition that can be found in black Christian spaces across globe. The night is watched on the eve of the new year by singing, praying , dancing, shouting and giving testimony as expressions of gratefulness to God for making it through the old year and being on the cusp of seeing the new. However, Freedom's Eve as Watch Night was first known as was initially a cultural event first observed on December 31st, 1862 as African Americans, held captive by slavery, watched the night to hear the news of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
As everyday is Freedom's Eve for black lives, there is a strength to persevere and move the moral arc of the universe toward justice that is gained in gathering for Watch Night Service. Albeit all religious gatherings are now on zoom to heed to social distancing rules, organ playing, singing, clapping, fancy foot dancing can and still carry on for Watch Nights across the globe. Participating in such an event on the eve of a new year doesn't only leave its people empowered but, it gives a collective power to all, especially the marginalized who gather and reminds us that we can do and be anything because a higher power is with us and for us.
4.Write a Letter to Your 2021 Self
As is customary at the start of every new year, many of us will set goals, both professional and personal for our lives. The type A personalities and those good at compartmentalizing will accomplish most or all of them. The rest of us, however, will quickly fall into other routines and become distracted by other priorities. Whatever category you do fall in, write a letter to yourself affirming your worth and remind yourself that no matter what you achieve or cease to achieve in the year ahead, you are valued. Tuck the letter away and on December 31st of December 2021, be sure to read your letter to examine how much you believed in and lived into your claims of who you fundamentally are.
Recognizing that a good night’s sleep is a privilege for many, especially in this pandemic; to seek rest on the brink of the new year simply means if even for a moment, to free yourself of distractions, to inhale and feel every bit of that breath, and to exhale in hopes that in letting go of that breath, you, in the words of the 20th century African -American mystic, Howard Thurman paraphrased, we will come alive, hear the sound of the genuine, the only guide you will ever have, and follow it. May we all come alive in new ways in 2021.
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and do it.Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."-Howard Thurman