A bald eagle sits on top of the gazebo at Mariner Park on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

A bald eagle sits on top of the gazebo at Mariner Park on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Best Bets

Waiting for 2020 to end is like hoping for a kidney stone to pass. If you’ve never experienced the pleasure of that life event, imagine a little uncut diamond has worked its way into the fine tubing that goes from your kidney into your bladder and thence into, well, that little port where liquid stuff comes out of your body. Sharp pains down there let you know the stone hasn’t escaped.

If you’re lucky, the stone will be tiny and emerge without too much fuss. If you’re not lucky, it might take some surgical intervention that the Betster cannot describe in great detail because this is a family newspaper and also it will frighten grown men.

This year has been one uncut, gnarly 45.52-carat, Hope diamond of a year, but with a heck of a lot of angst. We’re now in the final hours of arguably The Worst Year Ever, at least in recent memory and not counting the years of the Great Depression and World Wars I and II.

Remember how you whined to your parents or grandparents about how your life was just horrible because you didn’t get the right color iPhone for Christmas and they said, “Oh, child, you don’t know suffering?” Well, now you do. Kids, you have acquired months of despair which decades from now will fully entitle you to say, “Oh, child, you don’t know suffering.”

Here we are, though. As the minutes tick away, you can look back at 2020 and cite these accomplishments:

• Hand washing. Oh boy, have you nailed that. You’re probably sick of singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as you create coronavirus-killing suds.

• Social distancing. Do you cringe when a stranger comes within 6 feet of you? Gold star, COVID warrior.

• Mask wearing. Have you now acquired an entire wardrobe of chic, funny and comfortable face coverings? Do you feel naked if you go into the store without one? Have you learned how to tell when people smile by the way their eyebrows crinkle? Sweet.

• Group conference calls. Know how to mute your smart phone or computer? Figured out how to put up a scenic background? Can you type out a quick comment so you won’t have to say, “But what about the second quarter sales figures?” Awesome.

More important, if you’ve survived and held it together despite the loss of social contact, the danger of getting sick and adjusting to erratic changes in income, count your blessings. This pandemic has been hard on many.

As 2021 dawns near, just as in any new year, we hope that times ahead will be better. We have a vaccine. We’ve tested our resiliency. We’ve learned more about compassion and kindness. So drink something bubbly (it doesn’t have to be alcoholic), take a deep breath, and move forward, maybe by celebrating with these best bets:

BEST BOOM BET: The third annual Homer’s Crowdfunded New Year’s Eve Fireworks Fantastical will take place at 8 p.m. today, Thursday at Mariner Park on the Homer Spit. The fireworks are crowdfunded, and money to help purchase them can be sent to organizer Aaron Weisser. For details, visit the event’s Facebook page. Participants the night of the fireworks are encouraged to enjoy them from inside their vehicles, or socially distanced while outside. Face coverings are requested.

The fireworks will be streamed live on the event Facebook page, and Peninsula Radio will accompany the fireworks show with a commercial free, live radio music soundtrack beginning at 8 p.m. The fireworks will be delayed if there are heavy winds, rain or snowfall.

BEST SUDS BET: The Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is hosting its 3rd annual beer label design contest. Design a beer label for the Grace Ridge Brewing ‘64 Afterbock beer and have your art displayed on each bottle. The theme this year is resiliency. The deadline for submission is Jan. 15. Submit all artwork to Dana Nelson by email, ddnelson4@alaska.edu, or by mail, 2181 Kachemak Drive Homer AK 99603.

The winning artist will be announced at 6 p.m. on Feb. 5, with all submissions on display at Grace Ridge Brewing and showcased virtually following CDC guidelines. Contact Nelson for more information.

BEST FAREWELL BET: Celebrate the end of the year with the local VFW Post 10221. The post will host a flag retirement ceremony at 8:30 p.m. today, Thursday, followed by fireworks at 9 p.m. There will be hot chocolate, cookies and food provided, as well as a champagne toast at midnight. Doors open at 3 p.m. at 72551 Milo Fritz Ave. in Anchor Point.

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