Goodbye 2020. Hello 2021.
We did it. We have reached the end of the year. Somehow, some way, by grace and grit, love and laughter, pushing on, standing strong, leaning on each other, working together – we made it.

It’s time to finally say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in a new year, a fresh start, a clean slate.

What better way to ring in the new year than with a special treat from Ashley’s? There’s never been a better time to enjoy a delicious cake, fun cupcakes, your favorite donuts, than on a night when you’re ushering in the new year. Swing by the bakery today to pick up a slice of deliciousness or give us a call so we can have your order ready to go well before the ball drops.

I know I’ve learned a lot from this year. I know it’s been challenging, hard, and plain crazy at times, but it’s also been surprising, tender, and reflective. I don’t know that I’m planning on New Year’s resolutions for 2021, but I do have a “to-do” list of sorts. It’s a list of what I hope to practice and remember in the year ahead.

Practice gratitude. If the past year taught me anything, it taught me there is always something to be thankful for, even on hard days, even during tough times. I am thankful for my family, my health, and all of you. We are forever grateful for your support during this year.
Research shows practicing gratitude is good for your health. Perhaps this year you’ll consider joining me in this gratitude practice. Maybe you’ll write in a daily gratitude journal or begin each day by saying what you’re grateful for. I often found myself looking for the good on the bad days because, even if I had to search a bit, I could always find something I was thankful for. I want to carry that into 2021 and continue to practice gratitude no matter what comes our way.

Expect the unexpected. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. We could hit it big, lose someone we love, or find ourselves smack in the middle of a global pandemic. I think 2020 has taught me to be prepared to be adaptable. It’s great to have a plan, but sometimes it’s great to plan for that to change at any moment. This year has better prepared me for whatever tomorrow will bring. This year has actually prepared me for 2021…and has me hopeful for  better, brighter things ahead.

Celebrate the small stuff. I think many of us found a new appreciation for the little things in life this year: moments spent with family, warm hugs, meals shared gathered around a table, the ability to travel and so much more. This year gave us a chance to celebrate small things with those closest to us. We enjoyed quiet birthdays at home, indulged in comfort food and homemade meals, and celebrated everyday victories. (Because some days finding Clorox wipes or toilet paper felt like a victory). In some ways, this was a simpler year with cleared calendars and time  to just be. 
I hope the new year allows us to enjoy big moments like weddings, graduations, anniversaries and more. These life events are worthy of big crowds and fanfare and celebrations. But I also want to carry into 2021 to celebrate the small stuff, because it’s worthy, too.

Kindness always counts. Mr. Rogers had it right with his famous quote: “During times of disaster, look for the helpers. You can always find people who are helping.” Even during this challenging year, kindness could be found in many places. You could always find people helping. Neighbors stepped up and helped neighbors, running errands or dropping off needed supplies on porches. Teachers did what was needed for students to succeed, even if that meant dropping items on a student’s doorstep. People pitched in at food banks, both giving food to help fill empty shelves and loading boxes of food into cars of those in need. During this holiday season, people pitched in and donated loads of toys and presents so others could have a Christmas.
I’ve seen the kindness in our customers, our employees, the neighbors in this community and I am grateful for it. Kindness always counts. Kindness always matters. I will carry kindness into 2021.

Love your people. As most of us discovered, our people – those close friends and family – are what we need during the hard times, during the good times, and all the moments in between. I missed seeing friends and family this year. I longed for traditions of the past and events shared with others. But I’m glad I had my people to help me through. I believe I knew the value of family and friends before the pandemic, but I really know its worth today. As we enter 2021, I will continue to love my people and really soak it in when we can be together.

Many of us are ready, perhaps even excited, to close the book on 2020. Here’s hoping 2021 is a better, brighter, healthier, happier year.

From all of us to all of you, Happy New Year!