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Reflections on a Pandemic New Year’s Eve

A Poem by Dr. Barry Lubetkin


No New Year's Eve celebrants in Times Square this year
No New Year's Eve celebrants in Times Square this year

When I was young

My New Year’s celebration was successful only 

if at midnight my lips would find another’s.


Nothing else had any standing in my sexually raging brain. To be alone at twelve was to feel adrift and defeated.


But oh! Success led to a celebration of immensity. Boasting, strutting, and a confetti of masculine joy! 


So I resolved to have a year full of romance.


As the years progressed my New Year’s celebrations were boisterous nights at obscenely overpriced restaurants.


Dom Perignon flowed and Beluga caviar was spread with abandon. Horns and rattles shook the walls, but could not blot out the pain of aching joints, disappointing friends and lost opportunities.


But oh! I was alive, loved by some and blessed to be an American. I was safe, free, affluent .and conveniently blind to my own racism, narcissism, and belief in the basic goodness of my leaders.


So I resolved to focus on wellness and self-awareness


And now I am older in a COVID-ravaged world.

New Year’s Eve will be subdued at home

A quiet red wine will be fine

I will smile at Andy and Anderson at a sad and silent Times Square.


And I will struggle to celebrate the birth of the New Year. I pray it will be promising. But can it be? Can I really dare to celebrate? 2020 asserts an ugly grip on the infant year. George Floyd has his knee on the soul of America. Millions of fellowmen ache from hunger and poverty. Our leader, unstable and unpredictable, wrecks every norm and law we believed inviolate. His minions will continue to savage all that is good to guard their power.


But oh! I’m still alive! Joe did win. The vaccine survived the doubts and lies and political stains. Broadway and music and dance will return! Lips will touch again! Prejudices will erode. Black Lives Will Matter.


To celebrate the New Year I will struggle all year. Forgive me, but I can’t feel real joy right away. Yet even my own cynicism will eventually erode. After all, The People saved democracy!


So I will resolve in 2021 to protect my country and my children from ever blinking again in the face of monstrous fascism.



Barry Lubetkin, Ph.D. is the co-director and co-founder of the Institute for Behavior Therapy in New York City. He is the author of numerous academic and popular articles, as well as two popular self-help books, Bailing Out and Why Do I Need You to Love Me in Order to Like Myself. The Institute for Behavior Therapy is the oldest private cognitive behavior center in the United States.

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