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Posted: December 26, 2013 10:00 p.m.

A fond, hopeful farewell

We find ourselves today suspended between the two holidays in the whole long year that speak most loudly and consistently to the concept of hope: Christmas and New Year’s.

Translated in the Greek, hope is a feminine noun that conveys trust, confidence and expectation, according to the website

It is not expectation of just anything that’s coming around the bend, but a sure confidence that "what is good" is on its way and promised to come. It suggests belief that what is most looked for and desired is, in fact, a certainty, not something dependent on the whim of the gods or the roll of the dice.

To hope for something, per the Greek, is to anticipate boldly the arrival and existence of the heart’s desire. Believers in "the reason for the season" cling fervently and unquestionably to the hope for all things good that this individual brought into a world that seemed to be short on love, forgiveness, compassion, mercy and justice.

Now think about how most of us use the word "hope" in common parlance that’s far from the historical definition. It’s often offered up weakly, tepidly or timorously, as if when we say it we’re giving the wish only a 50-50 chance of happening or being true. We make a limp gesture toward a possibility that’s couched in an aura of defeatism. "I hope it won’t rain." "I hope I won’t get caught." "I hope I don’t catch the flu." "I hope I don’t run out of gas." "I hope he gets what’s coming to him."

Our commercialized Christmas celebration is fraught with doubt and uncertainty. "I hope I bought the right size." "I hope it’s the right color." "I hope I didn’t forget someone." "I hope he bought the one I really wanted." "I hope she didn’t spend more money than I did on a gift." "I hope it can be exchanged." "I hope they like it." Whereas "hope" is supposed to mean surety, it instead becomes doubt-riddled.

New Year’s is no less an occasion for hope. We hope things will be better. We hope to lose the five pounds we just spent two months gaining, plus the five pounds we put on last Christmas.

We hope for world peace. We hope grandmother gets well. We hope to become debt-free this year. We hope for a raise – or a job at last. We hope they find a cure for cancer this year. We hope someone wants to buy our house finally. We hope we can build our savings back.

The hopefulness with which we view the New Year is, in truth, a simple function of turning over a page on the calendar. It’s as if the act wipes away a year of, say, less than sterling performance and desires unfulfilled. All things seem newly possible when viewed in just a different light. Hope and hopefulness are renewed as December fades away.

But the perception is all in our heads. The day of Dec. 31 simply rolls over and becomes Jan. 1, albeit with a little merrymaking in between. With the chime of a clock at midnight, we are suddenly hopeful again with a sense that the new year will be different from the past year.

But what really makes the difference between one year and the next? It’s not a gong. It’s not a page in a datebook. It’s not Prince Charming in a gilded pumpkin. There is no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny whose job it is to bring us everything we want. But, mind you, there is The Lorax, a fanciful creation by the inimitable Dr. Seuss. Most famously, The Lorax said, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not."

So there.

That’s what can make the difference between one year’s stagnant hopes and longings unfulfilled and a year of surety, certainty and confidence. It’s what you’ll make out of it.

Or as a humble but mighty Mahatma Ghandi put it: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

He certainly wasn’t advocating that we sit back and wait for a drone from Amazon to show up. I believe he was saying that if we want peace, allow it all around us.

If we want friends, be a friend. If we want forgiveness, then forgive. If we want to be healthy, choose healthy practices. If we want mercy for ourselves, then be merciful. If we want justice globally, act justly at home.

I have decided to focus on such things as these, so with this column I hereby take my leave. Thank you for the warm and kind responses I’ve received over the years.

Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. She can be reached at

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