For all the tumult and heartache, 2020 left us primed for hope and opportunity in the New Year. After a year like no other in living memory, it may be the perfect thing to remind of us that normal is wonderful.

While the first few weeks and months will still have lingering aftershocks from the most terrible past year – the next 20 days of the Trump administration could be a wild ride and it may be summer before COVID vaccinations fully penetrate the population – there seem to be a plethora of sublimely normal moments in store for us.

For me, that begins with seeing family and friends via something other than a high-definition video camera. And without concern that I may be jeopardizing their health if we haven’t all voluntarily quarantined prior to in-person get togethers.

Mario Nicolais

My parents and my wife’s parents are all over 75 and now eligible to begin the vaccination regime. After losing my brother-in-law last year, every trip to the grocery store has carried concern that I would unknowingly pass along the instrument of another loved one’s demise.

After non-anxiety inducing trips to the supermarket (maybe even mask-less by the end of the year!), I am looking forward to in-person game nights with friends. Last year my New Year’s resolution included hosting a game night at least once a month. I checked off both January and February, but by mid-March I knew my resolution would go by the wayside.

We still played plenty online, but frozen screens and pixelated game pieces always reminded us how much we were missing. I cannot make a full 12 months this year, but maybe I can pick up where I left off in 2020, beginning in-person again by the end of March.

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Right about that same time, I imagine Coors Field will be buzzing with Opening Day excitement. I have been a season ticket holder for more than a decade and missed the annual rite of spring. The moment the first pitch was canceled last year seemed to stick us in a perpetual state of gray stupor that could not be unstuck by a 60-game season.

For Opening Day 2021, I hope the stands will be open again for at least a limited number of spectators. If I am lucky enough to be there, I will look forward to the best beer and hotdog I have ever tasted.

As snow melts off the peaks in the Coors Field background, the annual Coloradan migration to the mountains should begin in earnest again as well.

Last year, stay-at-home orders precluded early shoulder-season excursions, overcrowding concerns led to summer cancellations and forest fires choked out much of the remaining splendor. I ended up hiking only one glorious section of the Colorado Trail and camping a modest handful of times.

This year I hope to get hundreds of miles back. And with a little luck and some heavy precipitation, I might even be allowed a campfire to roast marshmallows.

By the end of summer, I can already picture Labor Day barbecues, Halloween Trick-or-Treaters and a full Thanksgiving table. And next winter I hope to soak in the Mount Princeton Hot Springs again without having to find a spot 20 feet away from any other guest.

Until 2020, I always enjoyed each of these annual moments. But I took them for granted.

As an interminable optimist, even I had a hard time finding anything to be thankful for during 2020. Yet as we move on into a new year and new set of annual milestones, maybe it is that change in perspective that I will take with me.

Without 2020 I might not have genuinely appreciated just how important and precious each marker is throughout every year. That should not be a problem in 2021 or any year to follow.

Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq

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