Well, wishing you all a happy new year is certainly in order.

As in, it has to be happier than 2020. It is hard to imagine the new year any worse than what we have experienced in 2020. Of course, that depends on the COVID-19 variant and the effectiveness of the vaccine.

It’s not necessary or productive to reflect on 2020, but I’ll mention a few low lights.

We have lost family and friends to the pandemic. Being somewhat isolated has prevented us from keeping up with what’s going on around us. Through an email from my alma mater, UW-Whitewater, I learned that an undergraduate classmate from the early 1970s had died. We worked together at the campus radio station putting together programs and projects featuring the music of the times.

The pandemic has deprived us from expressing grief. We are expected to avoid gatherings, including funeral services. What kind of holidays are observed with our family on Zoom? Will the next Fourth of July see us alone in our backyards or with our family and friends for a traditional annual cookout?

It can’t get any worse, can it?

I’m told one way to deal with all of this is to be thankful for what we have. Some of us still have jobs and an income. Some of us remain healthy. And yet, a dark cloud hangs over any expectations of relief.

For some of us, COVID-19 fatigue has set in, and it is far beyond any temporary cabin fever we experience during harsh winters. The specter of a continuing pandemic looms as a dark tunnel with no light at the other end.

Who wants to hear some so-called political observer tell us this or that. The constant barrage of political us-versus-them combat has a numbing effect. While people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own wait for months for an unemployment check, our elected representatives in Madison, Springfield and Washington simply blame each other while the country suffers.

Yes, a COVID-19 relief bill was passed and signed into law this week. And yes, it was too late for millions of people who ran out of money and hope. Politicians who voters sent to state capitals and Washington took months to do what should have taken days. It was a colossal bipartisan failure.

In the depths of my funk this holiday season, I found some relief in the form of a Christmas card from a friend, a friend of deep faith and hope. I was surprised to hear an uplifting message because my friend and his wife hold a traditional holiday party ever year—but not this year.

I expected everyone in his household to be in the same kind of dreary mood I was in.

The letter to friends inside the card I received announced that all was well. Lavish decorations were displayed (as usual) and despite trying times they had an ample supply of toilet paper.

Here’s what they had to say.

“God continues to shower us with good things, and we look forward to celebrating the birth of his son, our Savior, once again—a source of comfort and joy in the midst of so much uncertainty. May each of you find peace in the midst of this pandemic, the peace which only God can bring.”

In addition to kind words of inspiration, recipes for the out-of-this-world finger food they serve at the Christmas party were included featuring my favorite, cocktail wieners.

Maybe things aren’t that bad after all.

In any event, happy new year.

Stan Milam, a Janesville native, is the host of the “Stan Milam Show” on WCLO Radio.