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It’s no news that the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest topic of the year, along with a presidential election, numerous protests, murder hornets, UFOs confirmations and anything extraordinary imaginable. It’s difficult to remember life from the first two or so months of 2020.

The year caught everyone off-guard as most things were canceled or postponed. And with Nebraska’s Directed Health Measures still prescribing an abundance of caution, maybe this is NOT the year to hit the bar, host a party, go out to a fancy dinner or get tickets to a big group gathering to ring in the new year. There are still ways to celebrate the start of a new chapter and say “Good Riddance!” to last year. No, things are not going to automatically get better or return to a sense of old normalcy once calendars read “2021,”  but there’s nowhere to go but up, right?

Send 2020 Out With a Bang

Covid has taken away so much, but there’s one New Year’s Eve tradition that endures — the spectacular fireworks finale of The Holiday Lights Festival on Dec. 31. Fireworks launch near 10th and Cass Streets at 7 p.m. You can enjoy the show from the warmth and safety of your vehicle or home. STAR 104.5 will broadcast the show’s musical accompaniment Everyday Heroes, honoring the incredible spirit of the community and the front-line and essential workers who have been working tirelessly during the pandemic. Arrive early and park for free to view the up-close show in the recommended viewing areas, Lots A, B, and C surrounding the CHI Health Center (after 6 p.m), Gallup parking lots and Park Omaha meters.

New Year’s Resolutions

Start on that workout! A healthy body is always a great goal. You can work out at home by subscribing to a Youtube channel like Bodysmith that offers short workouts, subscribe to video classes you can do at home, like from Lotus House of Yoga, or go in person to a local gym like Fitness & Beyond that follows Covid-safe guidelines.

On the other side of the spectrum, want to enrich your mind and read more? Go read a chapter of that book recommended by the Omaha Public Library or The Bookworm. Or get motivated to finally write a chapter of that book by getting support from a local writers group. Starting things now can help bring momentum into the new year.

Reorganize Your Space

You’ve watched the series about Tidying Up and HomeEdit. You’ve cursed your inability to find things in your crammed drawers. And let’s not even get started on your basement. Whether it’s a small shelf or a whole room, cleaning up and rearranging a space could provide a sense of rebirth and clarity. If you have a big job that you can’t tackle alone, there lots of local organizing pros who can help including Get Organized Omaha, My Eight Days or Clean and Organize LLC. Having a different setup can help enforce productivity as you settle into a new comfort zone.

Are You In Tune for 2021?

If you have a guitar or piano, do a tune check.  This will also be a good opportunity to see if any parts need repair or replacement. Starting off a new year with everything in tune may be small, but you’ll be ready to go straight from the start.

Check for Expirations

This is an easy thing to forget, but now is a great opportunity to check when warranties, deals, coupons, free trials, credit cards and other things expire. That includes the batteries in your fire or carbon monoxide detectors.

While on the topic of checking if everything is good to go, also update any passwords for your online accounts to help reduce the risk of identity theft.

1000 Hours for Free!

If there’s a service you’ve been meaning to try out, check if there’s a free trial. Watched literally EVERYTHING on Netflix? AT&T TV, FuboTV, HuluPlus Live TV, SlingTV and Youtube TV all offer free trials. Many fitness businesses like Genesis Health Clubs or One Tree Yoga studios offer free or reduced introductory trials so you can see if you like it. With a new year coming, it wouldn’t hurt to try out something new. You might find a service worth subscribing to. If you decide it’s not for you, make an alert in your calendar at the end of the free trial so you don’t end up being charged.

Log Your First 5K of 2021

The 1st Run 2021 (New Year’s Virtual 5k Run/Walk) is a virtual running event where participants choose the location and date to run their event. You can run free, or register to receive a finisher medal, an official Tyvek race bib and downloadable finisher certificate.  Once the distance is completed you simply submit your results via their registration account. Share your experience to social media at  #1stRun2021 or tag @virtualrunchallenge . Details at the official Facebook Group as well as the Strava Club. Packets are expected to start shipping on December 26th, 2020

Photo by Yann Allegre on Unsplash

New Years Eve Midnight Hike

Intrepid hikers can assemble at beautiful Hitchcock Nature Center on Dec. 31 for a guided, nature-filled midnight hike through the Loess Hills to start the new year. (Hikers must be at least 5 years old and up, and must dress appropriately for possibly very cold weather.) Starts at 11:30 p.m., $5/person.  Location: 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, IA, hikers should meet at the Loess Hills Lodge. Pre-registration is required. Masks and other COVID safety precautions will be observed.

World’s Simplest Mittens, Tin Can Knits

Smitten with Mitten Knittin’

If you want to learn a new skill but keep it low key, what better time to learn how to make cute and cozy mittens at DoSpace! December 31 from 2 – 3 p.m., follow along online to work on knitting a pair of small mittens. Our Learning Specialist Kim will be using this simple mitten pattern to make a small pair of mittens. Join via the DoSpace Twitch channel

Check Up on Loved Ones

The responsible thing to do this year is to celebrate in person with only people from your household. As tempting as it is to celebrate with friends and family, mixing bubbles is not safe according to statistics and health experts.

Through technology, it is possible to video call loved ones while you wait for the new year to start. It might cause some lag, but this would make safely hanging out with 10 or more people possible. Send texts, find the perfect card or fun trinket at City Limits or write a heartfelt letter if virtual face-to-face contact isn’t your thing.

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

Reflect on the Positives

It’s easy to focus on the negatives in a year like 2020. To help settle into a healthier mindset, think of the things that went right and celebrate those accomplishments. There’s bound to be a thing or two to be proud of.

Remember and Honor What was Lost

With a once-in-a-century pandemic sweeping the world, many things were lost this year. Omaha did not escape untouched. As sporting events were either canceled or postponed in order to keep people safe, Omaha lost out on continuing traditions and hosting unique opportunities — the College World Series, NCAA basketball tournament games, Summer Olympic swim trials and the MAHA Festival to name a few.

The most important things taken away this year were lives. Douglas County lost over 500 (and counting) people to the pandemic. Take a moment to think of what was taken away. Memories are sometimes the only thing we have left of what is gone, so keep those alive. The Reader is part of a media collaboration that is collecting stories about “Lives Lost to Covid.” You can participate here.

Clearing Out the Entertainment Backlog

When things have looked dark and people were stuck at home, artists have provided an escape through their work. If there was a movie or music release that you’ve been hearing about, check them out. You might find a new favorite and have something to root for when awards season comes around at the beginning of the new year.

View virtual movie releases through Film Streams as a safe alternative of the movie-watching experience.

On the music side, local legends Criteria released their first album in 15 years back in January through the Cursive-ran record label 15 Passenger.

In fact, Reader columnist Tim McMahan’s December Over The Edge column is a compilation of all the local releases he’s heard in 2020 up through the end of November.

Photo by Steven Aguilar on Unsplash

De-stress with Karaoke

Kick out the gloom, kick out the blues, tear out the pages with all the bad news! Relax a little and distract yourself by singing along to your favorite songs. Sing a song that makes you happy. Sing a song that makes you cry. Move to the beat and dance to your heart’s content. Just let those emotions out. And with all that practice, you’ll totally be ready to hit the stage when the pandemic’s over, at Reno’s Karaoke or Moe and Curly’s Pub.

Support Local Business

Help strengthen the local economy by seeking and supporting local restaurants, shops and services instead of bigger chains. Let the money circulate in Omaha. It will benefit everyone. There are a huge array of great choices locally. Use sites like Shop Local or Keep Local Alive to discover all your options.

Food Bank for the Heartland mobile pantry on March 23, 2020.

Donate to a Cause

Similar to supporting local businesses, donate to causes that you’re passionate about. Check your cabinets or buy an extra food item or two to donate to a local food bank such as Food Bank for the Heartland.

Entertainment organizations such as the National Independent Venue Association are looking to help keep local music venues such as The Slowdown with their “Save Our Stages” campaign.

Omaha has already lost the Lookout Lounge this year. With fewer places to host shows and events, it will be more difficult for workers in the live entertainment industry to continue their jobs and cause less opportunities for an escape.

Photo by Deleece Cook on Unsplash

I’d Have a Drink. Reader, Have a Drink?

It’s traditional to ring in the new year with toasts and conviviality. You’ve earned some drinks! Spirit World is now offering cocktails to go, online ordering and curbside pickup.  You can get fancy champagne or any other liquor delivered to your door through services such as Drizly.  Or order online from your favorite local breweries such as Vis Major Brewing. If you don’t drink alcohol by choice or by law, mix yourself a fun non-alcoholic drink.

I Want to Play a Game

Play a card game. Play a board game. Play a video game. Play solo. Play with others, either with couch co-op or online. Games are a fun distraction and time waster. Order card or board games from Spielbound or get some video games from Game Room.

Watch a Bowl Game

The Huskers will miss the college football postseason again, but there will still be plenty of games to watch on this day. Plus with the biggest and best bowl games being on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. And we’ll take any excuse to eat wings, am I right? Try some 2020 Readers Choice local favorites like Tired Texan, Porky Butts BBQ, Papio Pit BBQ, Hartland Bar-B-Que, Hog Wild Pit Bar-B-Q, Dickeys Barbecue Pit, Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ

Mark Your Calendar

It’s difficult to plan for the future or anticipate for events with a pandemic, but it’s good to remind yourself that there are still things worth looking toward. Many people are planning where they want to travel when the pandemic is over. If you have a major trip in mind, reach out to a travel agent like Custom Cruises and Travel or Travel Design Lounge to make your dreams a reality.

Photo by Chris Ralston on Unsplash

Now That’s What I Call High Quality H2O

This can be easily forgotten. It’s the end of the year and whether you’re just waiting for 2020 to end or reminiscing on what has been, don’t forget to drink some water. Get the good stuff at the Omaha Water Store!

Rest Up

Take a nap. Or get a therapeutic massage  (if DHM say it’s okay, that is.) This long year has ended and another one is about to begin. Build up your strength with some extra sleep. 2021 is about to begin and we have work to do.

Subscribe to The Reader Newsletter

Our awesome email newsletter briefing tells you everything you need to know about what’s going on in Omaha. Delivered to your inbox every day at 11:00am.

Become a Supporting Member

Subscribe to and become a supporting member to keep locally owned news alive. We need to pay writers, so you can read even more. We won’t waste your time, our news will focus, as it always has, on the stories other media miss and a cultural community — from arts to foods to local independent business — that defines us. Please support your locally-owned news media by becoming a member today.

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