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Happy New Year 2021! Do I need to say it? It can only improve from here!

It’s very popular to do a “year in review” list as we roll the calendar over. This year the impulse is certainly to think of the terrible things that we’ve endured — that are continuing to be a challenge for people — and most especially the people we’ve lost. It brings a great weight of sadness upon us all.

I am also intrigued to note the changes brought upon us through this global pandemic. Changes that are maybe not all bad.

We’ve learned that allowing people to work from their homes does not bring corporations to a grinding halt — people did rise to the occasion and stayed focused on their jobs — even if their cats walked by the Zoom screen and their dogs barked in the background. I’ve always loved outdoor restaurant dining in the summer — maybe we can keep that.

I started writing this column for you all in June of this year and it’s been a pleasure sharing what I could to try and stay upbeat as I write this last column of 2020.

Bethlehem Star

Paul and I had to wait for the clouds to clear, but we finally managed a great view of the Bethlehem Star on Wednesday night, the 23rd, over the southwestern sky. With binoculars we had a sharp view of both Jupiter and Saturn as they parted ways after their “great conjunction” on the solstice. It would have been great to have a telescope and be able to see the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn.

For me, the amazing thing about seeing this lineup of planets is to imagine Galileo in 1610, in his cloak, wide white collar and high boots, peering through his telescope to identify those moons and rings. And even more fascinating to think of Native Americans, and a handful of Vikings, standing around just like us in this corner of the world, some 800 years ago and staring up at this same astrological event.

And, of most significance, it is believed that this great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn may have occurred just prior to the birth of Jesus, drawing the Wise Men toward Bethlehem. Hence the naming of it as the Bethlehem Star. Weighty contemplations as we look skyward.

Happy school vacation

I hope all our students — and teachers, staff and bus drivers! — are enjoying a well-deserved break from the ongoing challenges of school life as we now know it.

And, in case you didn’t see it in the Dec. 17 issue of The Republican Journal, there was a wonderful interview with one of Jackson’s own, Kristen Byrer. She was interviewed by two of her fourth grade students, Chamberlain Coombs and Brody Ingraham, who clearly enjoy their library time.

Having worked as a librarian myself for seven years, both in school and public libraries, I’m so impressed with Kristen’s great attitude and adaptations. It is truly remarkable how everyone has pulled together to adapt and help our students move forward in these trying times.

Thank you for reading. And a very Happy New Year to you all!