Spread Cheer (Not COVID) in the New Year
What a year this has been.
With widespread sickness, political tension, and anxiety-inducing uncertainty, 2020 seems to have packed a decade of hardships in one year.
Even so, there’s much to be thankful for, and still more to look forward to. As we at EverSpark reflect on the past year and plan for 2021, we’d like to provide a few New Year holiday ideas for your law firm.
This year’s celebrations may look different, but you can enjoy the spirit of the holiday season even with restrictions. We hope you all stay safe, merry, and hopeful for what’s to come in 2021.
Join us in a reflection of the past 365 days and being thankful as we move towards something new.
1. Send Gratitude – and Be Grateful
We know, we know – it’s been a rough year. We don’t have to tell you why, because a dozen reasons fly across our TV screens every day – spikes in COVID cases, tumult in politics, hysteria regarding the future.
People are sick, people are dying, and there’s tragedy all around us as sea levels rise, beloved celebrities pass away, and friends and family remain distant in their own socially-isolated lives.
Even still, there’s hope on the horizon. 2020 isn’t the only annum with enough catastrophe to fill a century. For perspective, consider these Four Worst Years as ranked by Grunge and The Atlantic – you’ll undoubtedly feel grateful that you weren’t alive during these infamous rotations around the sun.
- 1348 – It’s uncanny how closely the COVID-19 pandemic resembles the Black Death that ravaged Europe in the 14th century. The first wave hit Europe in 1347, but the already-devastated continent took a turn for the worse when a second wave spread in 1348. By the time the disease stamped itself out, nearly half of Europe’s population was dead.
- 1520 – Western colonization of the Americas was in full swing by the 16th century, but one Spanish explorer changed everything when he eradicated an entire civilization. Hernan Cortes entered Mexico in 1519 hoping to colonize the Aztec people. Just months later, 40% of the population was wiped out from a smallpox epidemic that Cortes and his fellow conquistadors introduced to the susceptible Aztecs.
- 1919 – Celebrations of the end of World War I didn’t last long. The ink was barely dry on the Treaty of Versailles when the third wave of the Spanish flu pandemic circled the globe. The pandemic killed and orphaned millions, leaving an exhausted shell of a world completely devastated.
- 1968 – The Atlantic referred to this year as the worst in modern history. Only months after The Summer of Love, both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated, the hopeless Vietnam War was at its peak, and desegregation riots set cities across the country into a hate-fueled blaze.
All of that darkness – the sickness, riots, and wars – is to say that no matter how bad things look in 2020, we’re on the cusp of a fresh new year that will provide much-needed perspective and the opportunity to be grateful for what we have.
It’d be foolish to say that all the upheaval we’ve witnessed will be set right once our clocks announce a new year. After all, it’s not 2020’s fault that it’s sucked.
We can’t blame one part of this year for being horrible, and we can’t expect one thing to change it all. What we can do is take this opportunity to tell the ones we love that we love them; to congratulate our coworkers on their hard work; to thank our clients for trusting us; to pet our cats and dogs, and look ahead toward whatever is to come our way.
It won’t be the first time a bad year ends and another year begins.
2. Decorate to Tackle the New Year
Personally, fewer things are more depressing than taking down holiday decorations, and I have a feeling most people would agree.
There’s just something about a brightly-colored tree in the window that sparks a feeling of whimsy and hope, but that feeling doesn’t have to go away when your holiday decorations do.
Instead of returning to the same decor that you had in your office or home before the holidays, take a look around and see what would truly liven up the space. Taking down decorations is depressing, but it’s even more depressing to replace them with the same-old, same-old odds and ends year after year.
This new year, add texture and dimension throughout your space. If your office feels glum, try a textured wall hanging or colorful rug. You don’t have to spend extravagantly to feel the effects of a fresh interior; it’s just important to find a few new items that can drastically change the atmosphere in your office.
If you’ve been working from home, by now you’re probably sick of staring at the same four walls. An easy way to refresh your workspace is with removable wallpaper. You don’t have to commit to one design if you end up disliking your choice, and if you rent an apartment, your landlord doesn’t even have to know.
Those are just a couple of New Year holiday ideas to recharge your room. Here are some more that are just as affordable and just as easy:
Big, small, real, fake, it doesn’t matter. Choose plants or flowers that you enjoy looking at. Plants lend a cozy feel to your space, improve air quality, and they make you more responsible (if you get the kind that needs watering).
With a pretty vase or on top of a stack of books, they’re also easy to integrate into any room.
Switch up your lighting
Yes, that pun was intentional. And yes, lighting can be expensive, but there are plenty of options to satisfy every fancy (and budget). It’s especially refreshing to choose lamps with different heights and shapes – a floor lamp can make your office more stylish and more interesting than plain old overhead lighting.
Rearrange your furniture
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it’s the cheapest way to revitalize your space. If you’ve felt uninspired or drab the last few weeks of 2020, you can move a few pieces of furniture around and you’ll trick your mind into thinking it’s a new room.
When we live and work in the same spaces day after day, year after year with no change, we’re more likely to feel indifferent about the work we do in those spaces. Rearranging can change your attitude and give you a fresh perspective for the new year.
2020 has brought out the best and worst in people. Where some made selfish decisions, others made sacrifices to keep the most vulnerable of the population safe. As we move into 2021, it will be just as important (if not more so) to maintain that momentum.
Lawyers have a special opportunity to provide their services to those affected by COVID-19 for a nominal price or pro bono. Of course, lawyers don’t have to provide legal services in order to give back – taking the time to donate to your favorite charitable organization or helping out in other ways can have a far-reaching impact.
One of our favorite New Year holiday ideas is to simply give more. Here are some organizations that can help you get involved in legal charitable work:
COVID-19 has made compassionate release in federal prisons even more urgent. This organization is currently seeking pro bono attorneys who will be matched with individuals applying for compassionate release.
This organization is currently looking for attorneys to provide pro bono assistance to individuals in detention centers. All opportunities are fully remote. For available cases, visit the Immigration Justice website.
Public Counsel is the largest pro bono law firm in the country. They have dozens of COVID-19 specific volunteering opportunities, including providing business law advice for a daycare provider; conducting research on bankruptcy; translation services in Spanish, Russian, and Arabic; and assisting immigrant survivors of domestic violence.
This organization is one of the largest online volunteer hubs in the world. There are thousands of opportunities for lawyers to provide pro bono services; all you have to do to find an opportunity is select “Justice & Legal” from the dropdown menu.
A Message from EverSpark
This year has been a whirlwind of good and bad. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and discouraged when all you see and hear is bad news, or, even worse, uncertain news.
When everything is up in the air, it’s helpful to remember this: everything changes; nothing is permanent, not even a virus that seems impossible to shake off.
We’ll get through this new year ahead, but only if we can embrace the change. We can’t be afraid of what’s to come, and we can’t look back with regret. Change can absolutely be scary, but there is some comfort in knowing that it will always exist.
So as we make our plans and enjoy the holidays (albeit differently than in past years), remember to embrace the change, tell those you love that you love them, and be hopeful knowing that different days are ahead of you.