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Happy New Year?

Anticipating the uncertainties of 2021.

In 1999, Ralph and I were living in Minneapolis, and there was hype over the impending switch from 1999 to 2000. Given that computers were programmed for just two digits (keeping 19 as the understood first two digits), experts feared the systems that ran everything, including banking, power plants and library fines, would not be able to handle the flip from 99 to 00. The concern was that computers would interpret the change to be 1900 instead of 2000.


Consequently, we did our visiting in Ontario before the new year, in the event there was an international shutdown that would impede our ability to travel back to Minnesota. As we know now, the incredible amount of preparation and anticipation far outweighed the actual event.

not so crazy of an idea

Last year, January 2020, I remember commenting to my husband about the news reports of a massive hospital Wuhan, China was building, literally over the course of 10 days. I was amazed at the speed of their preparations, and I wondered aloud what they were anticipating, given the size of the project and the speed of the work. Was all this work for some cold virus?

Now, it’s January 2021, our first official step away from the year 2020. This is often the month of firsts for resolutions and new habits. I daresay many of us might be content with a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

hard lessons

New habits and resolutions for the new year often come from the previous year’s life lessons. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from my girls, all four of them. These lessons haven’t always been ones I’ve wanted to learn – and the biggest and hardest lessons have been to live in the moment and let go.

It was late December 2005 when we learned of concerns regarding the development of yet-to-be born Rachel, our third daughter. A follow-up ultrasound and subsequent tests in March confirmed the concerns and revealed even more. From late December to early May 2006, we waited. Each weekly clinic visit meant more difficult conversations and a gloomier prognosis. Our anticipation slowly turned to trepidation, and we had no idea how to prepare.

Fast forward to March 2009 when Janneke was born, catching medical staff and her parents completely off guard with her obvious abnormalities. We had anticipated a “normal” birth and the arrival of a typical baby. We were not prepared for the significant changes that came with welcoming Janneke.

learning to do hard things

As with the arrival of each daughter, we learned to begin again. We formed a way forward that included new skills and less sleep. We had to find new things to celebrate, often in the moment – instead of looking ahead to familiar milestones.

Is there merit or worth in anticipation and preparation? Is it possible to spend too much time anticipating and preparing for something that still might be nothing like you’ve expected? Is it possible that the time of waiting could be shaping you into something new?

It’s January 2021. We’ve ordered blades for the girls’ wheelchair wheels, a new and hopefully easier way to move through the snow. We will probably save on lip balm, as masks not only serve to protect each other from viruses but also keep the lips from being chapped from cold winds. We’re going to take this one day at a time, try to live in the moment and work to let go of what we can’t control. Happy New Year. Wishing you all health, peace and joy for 2021.

  • Sara Pot is a new columnist with CC. She lives in St. Catharines, Ont. with her husband, four daughters and their golden doodle; she welcomes conversation and feedback!

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