Rarely in the history of human experience can a January have been greeted with such enthusiasm as now. All hail January 2021!
Warmest greetings. How glad we are to see you. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined this time last year just how much we would long to see your old face again. Yes, we pined for these days all through the autumn, November and December, the intensity growing even as you came closer.
Whoever would have seen you previously as a bearer of good news, good times, good health, freedom, vaccination once again? You, the most miserable month of the year. Speaking for myself I would normally give you, nah, throw you away were there EVER any takers. There never were.
Who is surprised? With your (seeming) 31 Mondays back-to-back – short, mean, cold, squally little days – the penury, the bills, the prolonged comedown following Christmas and New Year, even the muted versions of both we have just come through.
Because what is there ever to look forward to when contemplating the immediate weeks ahead of January 2nd in any other year. But this is no ordinary January 2nd nor is 2021 just another year (with apologies to Shay Healy and Johnny Logan! ).
Ahead we see a promised land of good health, normal living, and freedom to meet and greet and mix, to sit in pubs and restaurants until the cows come calling and without fear of cameras or appearing in social media, Free to travel around Ireland and the world, to holiday in the sun, or see family across the continents. Yes, "free at last, free at last...", as Martin Luther King intoned in 1963.
Free too to mourn properly those taken from us alone, and without us, those who left with bare ceremony, robbed of a decent farewell by extended family and friends to be buried by the few, furtively, for fear.
Nobody should leave like that.
So bring on the day “when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”
Promise from Latin promissum, From pro "before" and mittere "to release, let go."