How Should We Launch 2021?

How Should We Launch 2021?

By G. S. Norwood

Seems like everybody was eager to call it quits on 2020. But how do we launch 2021, to make sure we’re doing it right?


Last July the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association cancelled the 2021 Tournament of Roses Parade, making do, instead, with a televised assortment of celebrity appearances, musical acts, and film footage of floats from years past. One of my favorite New Year’s Day traditions—Gone!

An aerial view shows part of the Rose Parade from 2012, with a float, a group of dancers, and a marching band.
University of Georgia Alumni Association

But there are lots of other traditions for ringing in the new year, including actually ringing bells. Or, in my case, whacking that big, wonderful gong in my living room. Loud noise, from bells, gongs, or fireworks, is supposed to chase away bad luck and evil spirits. But no fireworks here, please. My beautiful border collie, Zoe, doesn’t like it.


On New Year’s Eve, some traditionalists sweep the house, believing they can sweep out all the old year’s bad luck at the same time. But don’t sweep on New Year’s Day because that will sweep all your new luck away!

A cornbread muffin, cooked collard greens, and black-eyed peas in tomato sauce make a pretty and tasty New Year’s feast.
Earthy Feast

Here in Texas, many natives greeted 2021 with black-eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread. In a tradition that traces its roots to Africa, the peas symbolize coins, the greens stand in for folding money, and the cornbread is gold. Feasting on black-eyed peas is supposed to guarantee wealth in the new year.

Personal Goals

Beyond the folkloric traditions, there are some simple, basic rituals nearly all of us will observe as we launch 2021. Some of us will make New Year’s resolutions—be they plans to get more exercise, always wear a mask outside the house, or just to get up off the couch more often and eat more vegetables.

Here’s the “Deep Ellum Pawn” cover side-by-side with the “Deep Ellum Blues” cover. Although the pictures and colors are much different, the Miz Eddy character, the frame element and the consistent typography mark them as clearly part of the same series.
Weird Sisters Publishing; cover artwork is © 2019 and 2020 by Chaz Kemp.

I started the year by starting a new planner. My lovely cobalt blue planner from Ink + Volt devotes its first few pages to setting goals for the year. It asks me to select a theme for the new year and write down some things I plan to accomplish.

My readers may be happy to know that my 2021 goals include writing a new Deep Ellum story and finally wrapping up a mystery novel I’ve been slogging away at for a while now. But first I’ll be putting the finishing touches on a novel I completed last year. Keep an eye out for that. Mudcat Randall will make a cameo appearance!

Dickens and the Movies

For a number of years, when I was in college, I’d start reading a novel by Charles Dickens at Christmas and it would be the first book I’d finish in the New Year. I got through Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, and Bleak House that way, but never quite made it to A Tale of Two Cities or Nicolas Nickleby.

This composite image of the cast of “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” in costume and very much in character, includes the title in the right-hand corner.
Olympic Studios Cinema.

More recently I have opted to spend part of New Year’s Day in the movie theatre, watching one of that year’s Oscar-contenders. This year our cinemas are mostly closed, and I didn’t have a Dickens novel on hand, but I was able to launch 2021 by combining the two traditions.

The Personal History of David Copperfield, a new film by director/screenwriter Armando Iannucci, stars Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, and Peter Capaldi. It’s an absolute delight, reveling in bright colors, glowing sunshine, and quirky characters. It demonstrates, in word and deed, the value of the ‘Peggotty proverb’, “Love those that help you out and help out the ones you love.” If you are not a strict Dickensian purist, I highly recommend it.

And, in the final scene, David had some words of wisdom we can all cling to as we launch 2021. “Don’t worry, you’ll make it through. And you’ll have quite the ride on the way.”

This quote from the end of “The Personal History of David Copperfield” says, “Don’t worry, you’ll make it through. And you’ll have quite the ride along the way.”
Quote image design by Jan S. Gephardt. Photo of Dev Patel courtesy of Scenstr.


Many thanks to the University of Georgia Alumni Association for the photo from the 2012 Rose Parade. We’re grateful to Earthy Feast for the photo of the New Year’s Day lucky dinner. The two Deep Ellum covers are ©2019 and 2020, respectively, by Chaz Kemp. Many thanks to Olympic Studios Cinema for the movie banner for The Personal History of David Copperfield, and to Scenestr for the photo of Dev Patel in the David Copperfield role.

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