I recently wished a neighbour a ‘Happy New Year’ and her response was ‘Is it?’ This made me pause and reflect on the meaning of ‘Happy New Year’; what do I really mean when I wish someone a ‘Happy New Year’, and do I automatically say these words at the start of every new year.

As I sat with this, it began to dawn on me that I have been habitually uttering this line without a second thought! For me, it is what I feel I must say in the first month of every new year because if I do not, people may think I am mean spirited, that I live within myself without a thought for others, that I am insensitive and cannot comprehend the enormity of the New Year.

With this also came the question how much do other people’s opinion of me matter? As I reflected on this, it began to occur to me that actually, the people who matter would not in the slightest be bothered or have a second thought if I did not wish them a ‘Happy New Year’; and most likely, not even realise the omission on my part.

This reflection also made me question what else do I say automatically without really considering the words I am using, their meaning and my intention. As you can see, I have unwittingly uncovered a whole new area for further reflection!

But for now, returning to what do I actually mean when I utter the words ‘Happy New Year’, for me this is wishing the other a year filled with peace and happiness; a year that blesses them with love and kindness; a year that is compassionate and caring; and that where there is trauma and loss, a year that gently envelopes them in strength, courage, and resilience to help them through such a difficult time.

So, this is what I wish for my neighbour and yes, no one knows of the year we will have; none of us had any idea of what 2020 would be like as it began. A year that has introduced concepts of ‘social distancing’, working from home and a ‘new normal’; a year that has affected all of us in one or another; a year that has impacted our mental health and wellbeing; a year in which we have suffered a loss of one kind or another, and the most heartbreakingly of all, the loss of a dearest loved one.

As the first month of the new year has drawn to a close, and not knowing what the rest of the year will look like, what joys and sorrows it will bring, I still nevertheless, sincerely wish you all my kind of ‘Happy New Year’.

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