Happy New Year! Guten Rutsch!

I write from the couch. Outside, the fireworks are already going off. Every few minutes, the room lights up in pink and green and purple. We keep meaning to get curtains, but it is never important enough. Sometimes I suspect we don’t want them that much.

The new year begins in less than an hour. The news alerts coming in talk of an “anxious world” ringing in 2022.

LSH and I have opened a box of Butlers chocolates, gifted to us at Christmas. I choose a white chocolate flake, followed by a pink himalayan salted caramel.

Someone got to name them all.

Earlier, we watched coverage from the Brandenburg Gate. Two moderators in the rain, pumping up an imaginary crowd. Live crosses to appropriately small gatherings in people’s living rooms. The revellers too tipsy, sometimes, to unmute their microphones.

We changed the channel. Now Mr Bean is on. Our little one is hiccoughing as she rocks on LSH’s knee.

He is wearing a nice, patterned shirt, on my request. It has been so long since we dressed up. I root out a fancy dress, which I have worn hoisted up most of the night, feeding our baby.

She is eleven weeks old now. When she smiles her gummy smile at me, everything inside me melts. Gah, she says now. Uw Goo.

This time last year, she was only a dream.

LSH has gone to get us some drinks, placing her in her little bunny-shaped nest before he went. I’m shaking the toys that dangle above her with my toes.

There is so much one could say about 2021 but I don’t have the time to find the words. Where even to start? I have nothing to add about the political. And the personal would be too raw, at twenty minutes to midnight.

An older friend of mine said time takes on a whole new dimension when you have children.

It’s true. Everything is at once more precious and more fragile.

I think back to New Year’s Eve 1999. My father in his study, eyes on his clunky computer as the clock struck midmight. Waiting to see if the millennium bug would materialise. The scariest things are rarely those we see coming.

This time two years ago was the last time I was in Ireland. If you’d told me then that the world would soon be hit by a plague that would kill millions and shut down life as we know it, I’d have passed you a glass of water, and offered to order you a taxi home.

Four paragraphs later, the drinks are here, and LSH has scooped up our little one again.

Through the wall, I listen to him singing Scarlet Ribbons as he changes her nappy.

Mr Bean is throwing a sponge at a headmaster. I have not been paying enough attention to understand the context. Outside, the bangs are becoming more frequent.

LSH is back now, and has set our Schatz down beside me on the couch. She’s in her sleeping bag. I mute the television and all I hear is the fireworks, and her breathing. Ten minutes to go now.

Happy New Year! Guten Rutsch!