"Thank God that's over!"

That was the phrase my uncle used as the last of his feeder cattle were de-horned. He didn't swear much, but de-horning cattle can make a man swear. I couldn't have agreed more standing there beside the chute covered with mud, blood and whatever.

I had that same feeling when the clock struck midnight last Thursday night as we passed into the year 2021.

I know that the changing of the year usually has no meaning, but this change of date did. I've lived seven decades and never did any of those yearly change of dates mean anything other than one might not feel well after a night of celebrating. It was just another year gone by.

This past year was different, wouldn't you say?

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Thirty years ago I participated in a leadership training exercise. The title of the program was "Looking Forward To The Year 2020." Part of the program was to figure out what the world would look like when that then far distant year arrived.

The internet was just coming on the scene and the world was essentially stable. Kids were going to school, reunions were being held, travel was unrestricted and one could hug a friend or shake hands without fear.

We didn't know how fortunate we were.

This past year's events have thrown a pipe wrench into all that my fellow classmates forecast way back then. We thought pleasant thoughts about each other no matter what political party we subscribed to. There were no fistfights occurring on the streets and there were no crowds running from tear gas.

No one was burning down buildings and there were no personal attacks being made between friends via social media. If you had thoughts about an issue, you wrote a letter to the editor and didn't bash anyone who disagreed with you, thus disconnecting a friendship that had lasted for a lifetime.

There was none of that going on when our group of 24 tried to come up with our forecast for the year 2020.

Most of our group was of the age that had come through the polio epidemic of the 1940s and '50s. We knew what that epidemic could do before the vaccine. Most of our parents were fearful of the disease visiting our homes.

There was great celebration when a vaccine was developed that stopped the dreaded disease. We rolled up our collective sleeves and eagerly waited in line in our schools and hospitals to take the shot in the arm. There were few arguments about whether to take the vaccine or not. We had seen the results of polio.

This new vaccine developed in 2020 is about the only bright spot in the past year. I've got my right sleeve rolled up right now.

And so we roll into a new year. Some of my comrade's ideas from that distant leadership program have actually come to pass. We foresaw a world where technology, medicine and science would advance. We forecast that the world would become more aware of the environment and actually do something about the way we were polluting it.

We did not see giant corporations building box stores that would put many smaller businesses out of business. We saw advances in the treatment of cancer and heart problems. We saw more "globalization" where countries decided to trade with each other rather than send missiles through the air.

We hoped the conflicts in the Middle East would decrease. They have not.

Well, we got some things right.

So, I can only wish that 2021 will be better. I'm tired of hearing the word "coronavirus" be the first word on every newscast. I'm tired of having our economy shut down in many areas. I'm tired of the politics of the past year. I need a change and maybe a new number for the year can do that.

As my uncle said as the last steer went tearing out of the de-horning chute, "Thank God that's over!" It's too early to utter that phrase yet. There are a few more cattle to de-horn, but I can see the last steer coming to the chute.

Just the number 2021 sounds good to me.

See you next time. Okay? Stay safe!