As each year closes, I like to write a column sharing some headlines I would like to read in the new year. This year, I have just one. I envision it being in a sharp, fat, bold font at the top of the mast and reading simply: 2020 IS OVER!

I’m not normally one to wish my time away, but good riddance.

Once upon a time, 2020 was a far distant concept, way out in the future.

All of a sudden, it arrived.

And, it was a year like no other in our lifetimes. No, it wasn’t all bad. Like most years, it had its joyful and fun moments. I’ve experienced a few like that. But, by and large, it has been marked by a raging virus and resulting pandemic that has killed over 300,000 nationwide and even 27 Pierce County residents right here at home. I’ve looked in the caskets of a couple of loved ones who died from the disease. Our Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings were canceled because of exposure to the virus. Then there’s the masks, social distancing, shelter in place and economic upheaval. We also had social and political unrest and an election season that seems as though it will never — as in ever — end.

This whole year has been like that. One of the best quotes I’ve run across in a long time sums up what living through 2020 was like.

It read: “What a year this week has been.”

I try to look on the bright side. Happy days are coming again. It has to get better. It just has to. There comes a point when you can’t fall off the floor.

So, in hopes of those happy days returning, I will continue my custom of sharing with you a few headlines I’d like to see in this brand new year:

• Vaccines successful, coronavirus eliminated from the face of the earth: Vaccines are becoming available and are being administered even as you read this. We have still got a long way to go before we can eliminate the virus and there are likely more dark days ahead, but I hope we are beginning to emerge from this awful nightmare of a pandemic.

• America becomes kinder, gentler: I sure hope we can truthfully say this at the end of the year. Looking at the current landscape, we are all set for at least two more years of bitterly divided government no matter how the Georgia Senate races turn out. I get millions of people love Mr. Trump because he shook up all the norms and never apologized. However, I wish he would get over himself. He is not a nice man. I get that millions of people don’t like anyone on the other side of their personal ideology. But, please, folks, we have got to do better. Yes, we can disagree vehemently and battle over policy and ideas, but can we  please stop beating and dehumanizing one another because we don’t agree? We can do this. America has always pulled together to work for the common good, to make tomorrow better than today and to be good and kind and decent. We can do it again. The Lord gives a very simple, but hard command: Love one another.

• Falcons, Dawgs, Braves and Bears have championship years: How about them Bears! State Champions. Wow! The sentence you just read came from an Appling County Pirate alumnus and I just said that — in print and to be recorded in the archives for perpetuity. I used this future headline last year and it came true, so how about a repeat? Wasn’t this past season a magical one for the Bears? In a year that was without precedent, the Bears winning their first-ever state championship in football just put a fitting and positive exclamation point on a year for the ages. I’ve always thought Ryan Herring deserved the chance to coach here, and I’m glad our Maggie brought him back home with her. I’m glad he finally got this opportunity. And, remember: G3 “Give God Glory.” I am hoping the Braves, Falcons and the Bulldawgs can finally win another championship, too. The Braves got to the division series, but choked again. Hometown guy Stetson Bennett IV gave it his all and was a point of pride locally this season, but the Dawgs didn’t make it to the big game. The Falcons, well, let’s don’t go there. They are as forlorn and depressing as my love life. The poor things found new and interesting ways to lose each week. They were out of playoff contention by the national anthem of the second game of the season. But, 2021, might just be the year for all three — and a repeat.

• 2021 is the best year ever.

It won’t take much for 2021 to be better than the one just passed. I have visions and dreams. I’d like to eventually settle down and have a family maybe. I keep wondering if this will be the year. Oh well, let’s not go off into that deep subject. Instead, let’s keep it nice and simple and vanilla. I hope 2021 is the best year ever.

Happy New Year!

• Jason Deal is a staff writer for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at jdeal@blacksheartimes.news.