Friday, January 1, 2021

I have, without a doubt, been waiting for this day with hungry anticipation. I feel a tremendous weight is about to be shuffled off my shoulder-tops and plopped down in the annals of get-the-hell-outa-here history. I’m going to take a few moments to sum up this year of weirdness.

First off, while committing to a daily writing project is certainly within my wheelhouse, I’m not sure it’s something I’d want to do again. Second, I will accept my failings in this project, mainly for having bit off more than I could feasibly masticate. Writing? Sure. A sprawling social media presence, plus daily recap videos, plus videos of our celebrations, plus attempting to promote this thing and spread the word? That was a bit much. Planning out grocery shopping lists was a pain, but adding in scheduling trips in autonomous vehicles and frolicking with penguins made this feel like a full-time job with unpaid overtime (and unpaid regular time).

Then there was the virus. The virus kicked this project’s butt, cancelling most of the fun stuff we had planned, and re-focusing our efforts on writing and writing alone. Jodie was too busy last year to pitch in as much as she’d hoped, so it all fell to me. And while we had a devoted group of beloved fans, word never really spread. There was too much competition in the air, and flagrantly celebrating chicken-fried steak while thousands of people are dying seemed almost vulgar at times. It was bad luck, coupled with a severe understaffing issue.

But that’s not to say it was a waste of time. We had a formidable distraction to keep us from dwelling on the bad news. We tried new things, like haggis and coffee milkshakes. We plunged lots of money into the local economy, mostly to local shops and restaurants. We did what little we could to add to the noise of positivity and joy in the world. And we finished with a grand total of 2,139 celebrations. That’s a lot more than our initial goal (1,000), and enough to call this project a genuine success. And now it’s over. And now we can rest. Here was how we finished the year:

National Champagne Day

Of course, it’s not actually National Champagne Day unless you celebrate it in the Champagne region of France. So technically for us it was National Sparkling Wine Day. And we celebrated it with… Prosecco. A sparkling wine that is not, by definition, champagne. But it’s close enough for 2020.

Champagne has been associated with royalty since the 1600s, which explains its huge bump in popularity among the middle-class folk in the 20th century. We all wanted to feel more like the upper class back then, right? That’s why Hochtaler, a company that makes crappy wine sold in cardboard boxes, used to market to us with a fancy-looking woman wearing a top hat.

The first bottles of champagne, which were created accidentally in France, were known as the Devil’s Wine, which sounds to me like an even better marketing opportunity than the whole ‘royalty’ thing. It wasn’t until Adolphe Jaquesson came up with a way to keep the corks from flying from the bottles in 1844 that the stuff could be mass-produced.

Neither of us are big fans of bubbly wine, but we acknowledge its remarkable association with partying and celebration. And so we honoured that tradition last night, by guzzling some of that sacred bubbly on the day we are supposed to. Our final food-based scheduled celebration. Also, our final alcohol-based scheduled celebration. I’ll miss these.

Leap Second Time Adjustment Day

If you think that our little planet just spins along with no one paying attention, comfortably fitting in as we swap our 2020 Word-A-Day calendar for our 2021 Hot-Babes-of-New-Brunswick calendar, then I’m afraid you are mistaken. People are watching this stuff, keeping track of how quickly our little space-rock is twirling, down to the nanosecond.

And it ain’t always consistent. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERRSS, which sounds like “ears” when you say it out loud) keeps an eye on the rate of rotation for us. Every so often they have to add an extra second to our year, just to allow our planet to catch up with all the clocks and other measuring devices we use. The earth’s rotation has been speeding up lately – most likely because even this planet was desperate to get the hell out of 2020 – so EARS announced that there would be no additional second yesterday.

The extra seconds are plopped at the very end of either June 30 or December 31. Good news for all of us: there was no additional second added in June, and there wasn’t one added yesterday either. We didn’t have to wait an extra moment to escape last year. The EARS folks will crunch their numbers and let us know about June 30, 2021, but you’re on your own for that one. We most likely will not be paying attention.

But we were ready. Isn’t that all that matters?

Make Up Your Mind Day

This is the day we are supposed to declare our intentions. Yes, this seems remarkably similar to making New Years resolutions, and… well, it is. It’s the same thing, but in a more bold and pronounced way.

Jodie has made up her mind to keep pushing through her Masters program this year, and to do so while continuing to volunteer for the homeless, and to fight for racial equity. I have made up my mind to begin a new writing project, one which will culminate in a single completed product, and not a series of daily submissions that will slowly erode my sanity.

We made up our minds to continue to isolate and mask up until the medical community suggests otherwise. We made up our minds to commit to new adventures in 2021, not by some arbitrary schedule but whenever we damn well feel like it, in order to keep complacency and boredom at bay. We made up our minds to stick with only three dogs and not to acquire anymore.

I made up my mind about that last one, but I’m sure Jodie will be on board. We made up our minds to reach out to friends and family regularly, and to keep those bonds strong. I made up my mind to focus on my health throughout the next year, continuing to allow Liberty to exercise me, and maybe cutting back on the evening snacks. Once we run out of our snack supply – I mean, we aren’t just going to throw this stuff out. We aren’t monsters.

More than anything, we made up our minds to relax as much as possible, and to spend more time with one another and less time on our phones. We have to emerge from this year with some sort of lesson, right? Valuing one another’s company sounds like a fine moral to take from this mess. Happy New Year to all.

No Interruptions Day

This was meant to be celebrated on the last workday of the year. I suppose, given that yesterday was a Thursday, it would be a workday for office folk who hadn’t booked it off. As a government drone, I was gifted the day by our union’s last negotiations. I should have celebrated this back on the 18th.

But I requested no interruptions for the duration of my writing, and even the dogs helped me out with that. I sat in my little office, looking out at the same snowy landscape I’ve been enjoying since March, and nobody got in my way while I wrote. They all knew it was my last stab at this daily obligation.

That said, I don’t mind interruptions. In fact, I often welcome them. It’s not that they improve my workflow, but they do push me toward my goals eventually, if only by adding some urgency when I finally get my focus back. In re-reading that, it all sounds wildly unhealthy in terms of productivity, but hey – I made it through 366 days and over 2,000 celebrations with this philosophy on interruptions. And I still managed to do most of the work my bosses dropped on my desk. And I swear, I’m damn close to finishing the story mode in Red Dead Redemption 2. And I’d have completed that narrative, if it weren’t for all the pesky interruptions of every day life.

Ultimately, the greatest interruption to my life in 2020 was this project, which will be put on the shelf going forward. So No Interruptions Day is technically my final day of interruption. Hmm.

Universal Hour Of Peace

We can thank Dr. Barbara Condron from the School of Metaphysics for this one. She dropped this into the collective consciousness back in 1995, primarily to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. It has since been bumped to 11:30pm on New Year’s Eve, in order to create a bubble of peace in the middle of which is the dawn of a new calendar year. In a sense, since this extended until 12:30am last night, this was the last celebration in which we took part.

The idea here is to meditate, or to discuss possible roads to a greater universal peace among humans. And animals. Why not animals too? Peace is the gist here, and we took part by maintaining a peaceful state for the full duration of those 60 minutes. We did not meditate – there was too much alcohol in our systems to do that appropriately. But we did remember to Make Up Our Minds to meditate more in the new year. And we refrained from committing any acts of violence within that hour.

This world needs a whole lot of healing, and not just from the virus, or from the environment, or from the political divides circling the globe. As humans we all need to heal our spirits in a wholistic way. That ain’t happening in a single hour – especially one that I’m sure no one else really knew about last night at 11:30pm – but it’s a start. We’ve got to be working toward that goal if we’re going to stand a chance, right?

New Year’s Eve

We drank. We played games. We ordered Chinese food. We laughed about the stuff worth laughing about and paid a moment’s pause to reflect on all the lives needlessly lost in the last year. We have documented our lives over these previous 366 days in a way unlike any other time in our experience, so we’ll have plenty of words and photos to remember this year.

This fucking year. The year Jodie and I were hoping would be our deliverance into a new age of enlightened joy and appreciation for all the minutiae in our lives. The year we’d hoped to dip our psyches into new adventures under water and in the skies. The year we thought would be a supreme life-changer for us. This fucking year.

It wasn’t all bad. I’ve outlined above that there is plenty of good we can take from this year, and some excellent insights and understanding that will buffer us in the days going forward. Mostly we achieved liberty this year. Not the vague notion of freedom and independence from oppression, but literally Liberty. We left 2020 with one dog more than we’d had when the year began, and Liberty is a genuine treat who will keep us engaged and entertained for many years going forward. She may be the true high point of this year. Thanks, National Golden Retriever Day. You were truly the brightest light of the year.

There were three of us ringing in the new year, the same three who rang in the last one together. Last year we did so with hope and optimism, and with a succession of bizarre post-midnight celebrations to launch this project. This year we did so with hope and optimism, mostly because we survived last year, and it’s over. This fucking year.

A joyous and celebratory New Year’s to everyone. I hope you came out of this weird succession of days with some wisdom and hopefully something wonderful. Like a new puppy. A new puppy is true joy. Maybe that’s the big lesson of 2020. Who would argue?

Today? What I’m doing today is my business. I’ll be resting, I’ll be relaxing, and I’ll be living my best life.

I’d like to extend a huge thank-you to the people who made this possible: Colton and Daria, for contributing a few of our fancier culinary exploits to the project, and Abbey for getting her hands dirty and celebrating with us as often as she could. I’d like to thank my friend Mark for helping to get me set up with the equipment I thought I’d need when this was going to be a video-heavy endeavour. I’d like to thank Stew and Blythe, and the other friends who joined us on our adventures before we all had to be locked up in our homes.

The biggest thank-yous go to our team baker (thanks, ma!), who not only prepared some of our most elaborate baked goods that I’d have never had time to create, but who also joined us for countless state-celebrating dinners and other assorted parties this year. She even pitched in to help me make my first (and likely last) Baked Alaska. Also to my three canine research companions, without whom this year would have been a dreary crap-bucket.

And of course, my lovely wife helped to make this all possible. She supported the idea, and while she was not able to pitch in and be as big a part of it as she’d hoped to be, absolutely none of this would have happened without her enthusiasm, and her commitment to seeing this madness through to its conclusion. Which has thankfully come at last.

Lastly, a big ol’ thanks to everyone who joined in and read the articles, watched the videos, and liked/shared/commented on our social media posts. We have some incredible friends and family, and we’ve made a few along the way. Friends, I mean. I don’t think anyone new joined our family. But thanks to Shelly, Lori, Kathy, Kerry, Chris, Ross, Keri, Kel, Jeanine, Heather, Nicole, and all the other ‘regulars’ who made it a point to click ‘Like” or drop a comment to let us know we aren’t celebrating in a void. You truly kept us going.

Today is New Year’s Day. A fresh page in a fresh chapter, and the options for how to celebrate it are as wide and far-flung as your imagination. And in the end, that is most likely the lesson I’ll take away from all of this: Never Stop Celebrating Life.