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2020…You’re fired!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020, 14:01 GMT+7
2020…You’re fired!
A fireworks display on New Year’s Eve in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Linh / Tuoi Tre

Shame we can’t get a refund on 2020. It was definitely a dubious, shonky, shady, chaotic, and infuriating year. I think we’re all agreed it has been a year we all want to forget unless you are a new parent, got married or made a million dollars.

It’s also going to be a very strange celebration. No big crowds, less opportunities to party and drink like it’s 1999 and everyone in the house is banned from even looking at each other.

However, whooping it up if you live in Vietnam might be Santa’s best present of the year. At least the nation is doing amazingly well in keeping the COVID-19 horror under control. So much for the fabled and legendary organization skills of the Western world. It actually feels like a huge sigh of relief to continue our lives more or less normally here while the rest of the world just seems to be getting worse. 

Originally, we started as the Year of the Rat, which finishes on February 12, 2021, supposedly a prosperous and successful time. Oddly enough, I found this little snippet from a Chinese horoscope website describing ‘Rat men’: “Due to a lack of courage, as well as good command skills, they are not capable of being leaders. Opportunistic and picky as male Rats are, they do not have broad minds but take a narrow view of things.”

This might explain a lot…

Incidentally, next year is the Year of the Buffalo. Buffalo people are not communicators and prefer solidarity activities – so we can expect much the same agony as this year…sigh.

But the final parties of 2020 are definitely going to be weird. Sydney still wants to hold its world-famous fireworks display but with half the northern side of the city looking to be locked down and potential escapees blocked at airports and highways, you might have to settle for a family gathering of two adults and no more than three animals.

We, in fabulously gloomy overcast drizzly central Vietnam, can still dance the night away in our raincoats, artic weather gear, and flip-flops. Ha-ha to the rest of the world!

I deliberately avoided anyone going on too much about COVID-19, or money woes. 

Heck, compared to a lot of the world, we are doing comfortably well here. But you can’t avoid the ‘what will happen next’ opinions doing the rounds. I honestly felt people were coming up with more wacko theories and scenarios than a Hollywood scriptwriter. At least my dogs kept their opinions to themselves and huddle next to the electric heater.

But you’d be mad to stay home at this time, even if you can’t stand some people, simply getting out to have a chat is therapeutic. 

Develop a mad, wild theory about next year and inflict it on some poor hapless slob – get this year out of your system! At least let everyone know you’re still alive and not afraid to mix and mingle. One nice thing about living as an expat in a foreign country is that no one expects you to be that normal anyway so the judgmental levels are way down. If you haven’t shaved for three days, that should be no problem! If you're still wearing pajama pants when you go out – quite all alright!

An interesting aspect we can look forward to is people re-thinking their lives in 2021. Do we really want things to be ‘business as usual’ or try to make our world a better place? Certainly everyone has had a solid wake-up call that life is short so it's better to enjoy it as much as you can, rather than running around on the treadmill.

For me, as soon as it’s feasible to travel again, I’m hitting the trail – Fabulous Osaka for food and manga goodies for sure and hopefully Malaysia for more toys and books. Summer will be back soon in Vietnam so there’s no need to go anywhere for that; yet the change of environment is the breath of fresh air for our souls, which is going to overcome a lot of people.

For others, this will be the beginning of rebuilding businesses and projects shut down so harshly. While many businesses will never return, there’s great potential for new ideas, upgrades, and innovative startups. Even more wonderful are the predictions of a strong recovery for Vietnam with some evidence of that happening already. Viva Vietnam!

So 2020… get lost! Good riddance! Kick it out the door! It has been a nightmare of a year so for at least a while, treat it like a bad dream and live it up anyway. I know I will.

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Stivi Cooke / Tuoi Tre News Contributor

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