The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
Moments before the New Year, little 2021, in fearful desperation, toddled up the familiar staircase of nearby clouds and knocked on Cupid’s star. “Hello?” Cupid yelled from inside his celestial home. “Go away! Come back in February. I’m busy.”
“Take my place, please! Have you seen what’s happened to the mortals? At this hour the world needs you and your quiver of love far more than it needs my confetti. At least give me your quiver and bow.”
“I’ll trade you my top hat!”
“Talk to me on Valentine’s Day. Go away!” And so the new year did.
2021 nudged his top hat to a cocky angle, hiked up his diaper and clutching his fistful of confetti in one hand and a bottle of Champagne and two flute glasses in the other, toddled toward the old bearded man in the robe who was striding his way across the heavens in his direction.
The old year bent down to greet the new year. “So you’re 2021!”
Smiling nervously up at the old man the toddler stammered, “H-h-how was it?”
“It was what it was. You can’t control it. Mortals will do what mortals do.” The tiny figure recognized the truth, sighed a resigned sigh and popped his Champagne cork, sending it flying over the moon. “Champagne?” They clinked glasses and toasted each other. It was 11:59:59. They could hear the mortals counting down the seconds.
2020 handed down the sacred ancient hourglass.“I believe this is yours now.”
2021 set the empty bottle down on a nearby cloud and accepted the hourglass as the last grain of 2020 dropped.
The New Year read aloud the words engraved around its base. “TEMPUS RERUM IMPERATOR.” 2020 nodded. “Time, the commander of all things.”
He flipped it over and as the first grain of sand dropped 2021 saw the words engraved on the opposite end of the hourglass: “VERITAS FILIA TEMPORIS.”
“Time is the father of Truth,” said the old year. With there being no point in lamenting that Truth had been in short supply during his tenure the old man asked the babe, “Where are Cronos and Demeter?”
“Father Time and Mother Nature are waiting for you at the Celestial Gate.” 2021 tipped his top hat, winked and in a burst of confetti the new year vanished, on his way to earth to reign over his four allotted seasons.
Cronos greeted 2020 at the Celestial Gate with his tired ancient joke. “You don’t look a day over 2,000 years old!”
“Ha. Where’s Demeter?”
“Grieving over the state of the natural world, my son. She has sought solace among her seven sisters, the Pleiades, where she mourns, inconsolable.”
2020 thought it foolish to expect more from shortsighted mortals. “It is what it is. When I saw the Easter Bunny in April I told her, ‘You would not believe the nonsense mortals believe.’ For 365 days I watched many mortals waste their year on anger, resentment and selfishness. Few mortals are mindful that time is their most precious gift.”
Father Time somberly quoted ancient wisdom. “Memento mori.”
“Remember, I will die,” answered 2020.
“A curiously life-embracing truth. Most mortals squander their hours as if they are immortal. Unlike wealth you can’t make more time. Many of the fools believe they are their possessions!”
2020 mused, “How did I get so old? I arrive at a cloud and then I cannot remember why I went there.”
Cronos laughed. “You should see 4365 B. C. Lost his sash, his sickle and his keys in the Dark Ages. 1776 found them in the Age of Enlightenment. What of the plague?”
2020 smiled the smile of one familiar with the timeless, always prepared for the worst in mortal behavior. “There was no Marcus Aurelius this time.”
At that moment an eavesdropping Cupid opened the door of his star to show off his knowledge. “I knew Marcus Aurelius! He was the Roman emperor who was born wealthy and who reigned with virtue, reason, humility and courage, even when barbarians, wars and the Antonine plague threatened the survival of his empire.
“Care for a chocolate heart?”
“No, thank you.”
“Without self-pity the emperor stayed behind in Rome, as other leaders fled, to comfort his afflicted people, even selling his possessions to fund Rome’s faltering treasury. In spite of believing there will always be selfish, destructive people, he wrote, ‘We came into the world for the sake of one another.’
“Anyone care for a creme-filled dark chocolate?”
Both answered, “No, Cupid, thank you.”
As they walked through the Celestial Gate together, Cronos paraphrased the long dead Roman.“Take comfort in what the old emperor understood, 2020, that which most mortals across time never have nor ever will. History repeats itself and fear can destroy a civilization. Little is new under Apollo’s chariot. Welcome home, 2020. Happy new year.”