Dec. 30th was day five of the last of the three Triumvirate Winter festivals (Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa). The word for Day Five is “Nia,” or purpose. As you and I think on the meaning of that word, we are challenged to determine, or at least begin to know what our purpose, both personal and collective is for 2021. I hope for 2021 that more of us will consider the meaning ... the purpose ... of words such as empathy, love, kindness ... positive mindsets in which to purpose 2021. The year 2020 has been such a challenging, stressful year. The hope of 2021 being full of renewed purpose, renewed hope, renewed common humanity fills my soul and heart.

I hope we can move beyond phrases like “personal freedom,” “my rights,” “my life” into a broader understanding of our purpose here on earth. (For my Christian friends, I give a gentle reminder that nowhere in Holy Scripture do we find the words “personal freedom.” We do find Jesus telling us that “Love of Neighbor” is paramount.) In 2021, I hope to hear more phrases like “loving neighbor first” (the opposite of “personal freedom”), “concern for other” (the opposite of focusing on “my rights”), and “concern for humanity” (the opposite of “my life”). I hope to hear these things from individuals, politicians, those pretending to and those actually leading responsibly, and all around the world, too.

Dec. 31st, Day Six, challenged us to cogitate on the word “creativity,” or those things that can be done to leave our communities more beautiful than before. What a beautiful, constructive and helpful occupation for us all. Daily, in 2021, we can be challenged to ask ourselves, “How can I make my community more beautiful than it has been?” “How can I beautify the lives of those around me?” “How can I beautify the lives of those others who live outside my sphere and need my help?” Day Six also takes us outside ourselves and into the lives of those around us…the poor, the struggling, the sick, the prisoner, the family “I don’t know” down the street, or on the block across town.

New Year’s Day is actually Day Seven of Kwanzaa, and its word is faith. Although how we practice our faith may differ (Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindi, etc.), all of us, in the practice of our faith can influence, touch, enhance and beautify the lives of others. In a world that has been recently disgraced by selfish and limiting rhetoric and disagreeable vitriole, imagine what 2021 might be if we enlarge our language and our practice with the word Other. Imagine what 2021 can be if we will discover purpose and faith that is expressed in what we do for others …not “me, myself and I,” but other. Imagine how we can correct the path we are on by changing our focus from “me” to the “other guy” …

Kwanzaa, which is a series of “holy” days we can all be interested in and learn from, even if we don’t “celebrate” them, challenges us. I hope we can bid a purposeful adieu to 2020 and begin to think of affecting the world around us with a creative, renewed and selfless faith and spirit in 2021.

I love you all, my friends and family. I wish all good things for you in 2021. I wish you the ability to put behind you the trials and tribulations of 2020 ... the ability to heal from the losses that many of us have experienced, including the deaths of our dearest loved ones and friends ... the ability to turn our heads and hearts into the sunrise of 2021.

Happy New Year!

Prudence Thayer-Klaene is a Lake Placid resident. Viewpoints, columns and letters are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun.^p