Gimme A Smile: Welcome to a new decade!

All things are new.

Welcome to the Twenties! It’s January 2020. All things are new.

True, there is some debate as to what decade we just entered. Does the decade start with zero and go to nine, or does it start with one and go to 10? Our nation is divided over this small but pivotal point. The Zeroers insist that we are now into the Twenties, while the Onesies cling to the Teens as if they are averse to entering adulthood. They maintain that the Twenties rightfully begin in 2021.

I stand squarely with the Zeroers, and I have proof to back me up. I work for the school district in the preschool. We have a numbers puzzle that starts with zero and goes up to nine. We are teaching the youngest, most vulnerable students in our society that zero comes before one. Never mind that we teach them to count from one to 10 on their fingers — I’m taking the puzzle as my authority. The decade starts with zero, and we have entered the Twenties!

I’m hopeful about this new decade. Mostly, I’m hopeful that we can finally lose the “two thousand” in the name and call this year, “twenty-twenty.” “Two thousand and twenty” sounds far too long and stilted for this new year. You can bet that 20th century women advocating for the right to vote didn’t mark “nineteen hundred and twenty” or “one thousand nine hundred and twenty” as the year their efforts succeeded. “Nineteen-twenty” is their milestone year. One hundred years later, twenty-twenty is open for all possibilities.

It does seem a little strange to be living in the Twenties, given the distinctive nature of the 1920s. It was a decade that earned the only decadal nickname in the twentieth century: the Roaring Twenties. Images of flappers, speakeasys, jazz,and the advent of talking movies define this charmed decade sandwiched in between a devastating world war and the Great Depression. We are left with an impression of carefree glamour that is hard to follow. Will the 2020s be as colorful? Will we ever be able to say we’re living in the Twenties without thinking about the razzle-dazzle of the 1920s?

The advent of a new decade puts a special emphasis on one’s New Year resolutions. It’s not quite as momentous as the turn of the century, the year 2000, when all we could think about was Y2K and whether or not our lights would still be on for us to see the new century. Ultimately it was all good, leaving Y2K to linger as nothing more than a trivia question. But with the dawn of 2020, some special New Year’s resolutions are in order.

Like most years, my first resolution is to stop procrastinating. Good thing it’s still January, so I can attest to the fact that I made my resolutions before the first month of the year was history.

Another perennial favorite is the resolve to clear up the clutter in my house. A worthy goal, which is nigh impossible to attain. The fates conspire against me, specifically in the form of the United States Post Office. Every day, a new pile of clutter arrives in my mailbox, waiting for me to sort, open, stare at, pile up, and otherwise move around from place to place until I ultimately move it to its final resting place, be it file folder or trash. I know things are out of control when I find myself dusting the piles of mail. As election season heats up, the volume of clutter will only increase. Oh well, I’ll deal with it all later.

Eat more vegetables, get more exercise, drink more water, write more stories — there are lots of good goals on my list. But for this auspicious new decade, I need a more impressive resolution. Maybe I should resolve to write a bestseller, or to lose enough weight to look good in a flapper dress. I could even resolve to kick my caffeine habit. But let’s not get carried away here. I wouldn’t want to suck all the joy out of the Twenties.


• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother, and author who writes cozy mysteries under the pen name “Greta McKennan.” She likes to look at the bright side of life.


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