Looking forward to calendar turning

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This approaching Thanksgiving has given me a lot to think about. It’s definitely a mixed bag of emotions.

First and foremost, there’s having a healthy family, which merits all my gratitude, but then there’s the sea of change the world has experienced this calendar year that gives me great concern.

Will 2021 see a reversal of the pandemic that we all hope for, or will the illness and death of the last nine months rage on for many more months before we can remove our masks and breathe clean air? Will the new vaccines work, or will the positive tests and deaths go unchecked for many more months?

This week also marks the 40th anniversary of the tragic MGM Grand hotel fire, which took 85 lives. I witnessed the towering inferno firsthand, and it remains the saddest and most dramatic event I’ve seen with my own eyes. Less than three months later, I watched from my apartment balcony as the Las Vegas Hilton fire claimed eight more lives. The idea that two of the three largest hotels in the world, situated just a few miles apart, would both experience tragedies of that magnitude is difficult to comprehend even all these years later.

I’m relieved that the contentious Presidential election is behind us … sort of … and would hope that followers of both political persuasions would at the very least pray that the next administration can navigate through calmer waters than we’ve been through lately. The vitriol and barbs that have been hurled by people in leadership positions has only exacerbated the anguish of the virus. It is my hope that politicians in the coming year strive for a much higher level of civility.

Like many of our citizens who have remained largely housebound, I’ve watched my share of sporting events, and a fair number of streaming documentary series. I’m grateful that the NBA did an admirable job of completing their “bubble” season, and that a World Series offered respite to all of us shut-ins. And that three PGA Tour major championships were played, albeit in arenas of silence. Viewing sports on television has provided at least momentary respite from all the chaos in the outside world.

The first spring I was in Las Vegas, 45 years ago, marked the only other time until now that I saw the Strip go dark. It’s a depressing sight rolling down Las Vegas Boulevard, viewing nearly empty sidewalks that are normally congested with visitors snapping photos of dancing waters and erupting volcanoes. I know we all hope that darkness will not envelope those magical miles again in the next generation.

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Our family lives near the Las Vegas Ballpark, and after the Aviators’ jam-packed and well-orchestrated first season, it is downright sad to have watched that beautiful facility sit empty all this year. For the minor league ballplayers hoping to get that lifelong dream of making it to the bigs, losing an entire season to prove themselves has to be particularly distressing.

While we were originally planning on a large family gathering for Turkey Day, we instead will be quarantining and eating a mini bird, uniting instead on Face time and Zoom with our loved ones and getting updates on their latest COVID tests.

We are just six weeks from saying good-bye to 2020. I don’t think there are many out there sorry to bid adieu this bleak year. It feels like we’ve been enshrouded by a dark cloud that just refuses to part and let in sunshine. But we know there are brighter days ahead, and that provides a window for optimism.

If in fact there’s one thing we can control, it’s our attitude about today and tomorrow. So I am going to pump myself up and welcome Thanksgiving and the coming holidays, and get especially giddy about a new year. I’m damn sure it will be a mega-improvement over the one we’ve just ­labored through.

About the Author

Jack Sheehan

Vegas Vibe columnist Jack Sheehan has lived in Las Vegas since 1976 and writes about the city for Gaming Today. He is the author of 28 books, over 1,000 magazine articles, and has sold four screenplays.

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