Woog's World: Westport-themed resolutions for 2021

We’ve turned the corner. 2020 – the worst year since a meteor wiped out every dinosaur on earth – is in our rearview mirror. It’s 2021. Full speed ahead!

If you haven’t made your New Year’s resolutions yet, you’re not alone. All that celebrating – figuring out which restaurant would deliver, finding the wine to pair with “drinking alone,” switching channels for the best view of the ball dropping in Times Square in front of dozens of people – took time and energy.

But now, as we settle in to a new year (which, pedants insist, is actually the first year of this decade; the past one didn’t count, because there was never a year “0”), it’s time for that annual ritual.

Of course, the world has changed. So instead of vowing to go to the gym more, lose weight and eat healthier food (all interrelated, and all pie in the sky, so to speak), let’s make a few Westport resolutions that really make sense. And ones we can actually keep.

Let’s start with an easy one: Shop locally. That message was heard loud and clear this holiday season. We realized that unless we supported our Westport merchants – those we always ask to contribute to our fundraisers, help us in a shopping emergency and hire our kids – they would not be around next Christmas. Or even next month.

Many store owners found that, to their pleasant surprise, this December was better than last. It helped them recoup from a horrendous year. But we must keep that momentum going. We need to resist the urge to Amazon-ize everything. We have to shop at Age of Reason for our toys, Savannah Bee Company for honey and body-care products, JL Rocks for jewelry, Le Rouge for chocolates, Savvy + Grace for everything funky and fun, and dozens of other places right here in town.

We need to dine locally too. For those comfortable eating inside, check out the many restaurants that diligently space out their tables, limit reservations and upgraded their ventilation systems, like Rizzuto's (it’s ultraviolet and purified).

For those who want to dine outside, great meals are waiting – even in the dead of winter. A Westport company called Mozy sells amazing thermal wrap blankets. You can even wear them to and from your car.

We’ve lost restaurants during the pandemic, but we’ve gained some too. Opening in a time like this takes courage and fortitude – and faith. Let’s reward the newcomers, and those that have been here much longer. And let’s do it not only with our patronage, but our tips. Servers, bussers, dishwashers and cooks have been impacted enormously, for almost a year now. Adding a few bucks to the bill won’t break your bank. But it will make a difference to many. (Pro “tip”: Do the same at takeout places like Planet Pizza and Pokeworks. Those folks need our help too.)

The next resolution won’t cost you a penny. Chances are you’ve been doing this since the spring: acknowledging the sales clerks we too often looked past, in the past. When the woman at CVS found us that last roll of toilet paper in the stockroom, or the guy at Stop & Shop sanitized the checkout counter after every customer, we realized how important they are to our lives. And how little we appreciated them, and their work. COVID-19 has brought a bit of humanity into our daily interactions. It would be a shame to lose that, whenever the world returns to some semblance of normal.

Another group we’ve grown more appreciative of is educators. It took the closing of schools, moving learning to laptops, and the introduction of a “hybrid schedule” for many parents to realize just how much goes on in our classrooms. “Teaching” is hard enough; add in emotional support, socialization, nutrition, release of physical energy and so much more, and it’s a wonder we don’t have to pay far more than we do in our education budget. For too long, too many people viewed teachers, administrators, coaches, paraprofessionals and other staff members as hired help, there to maximize the potential of already brilliant kids (and get them into the best school possible). With our new knowledge, let’s acknowledge the crucial role they play in raising our village’s children.

The last New Year’s resolution should be a no-brainer, but it isn’t. After the vaccines and herd immunity do their thing, let’s all remember the simple joys of taking walks, riding bikes and playing board games together. They kept us sane during the first, awful months of 2020. They can now form the foundation of a happier, healthier and more fulfilling rest of the decade. Whenever it started.

Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at dwoog@optonline.net. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.