New Year’s Eve is just an artifact of the Gregorian calendar, a man-made grid meant to mark the rotation of the planet and divide time into 365 bites, occasionally 366. Yet every year at this time we pretend there is magic in that calendar.

Pretending is part of our human charm. We look back at the artificial landscape and celebrate our good fortune, or distance ourselves from bad times and habits. Neither exercise makes much sense, but — unless you overdo it — the celebrating part at least has the merit of being pleasurable.

The year now all but past did have its moments. The economy, whether because of or in spite of the president’s tariffs and trade moves, has continued to grow. In fact, the stock market reached record highs near year’s end. The Patriots won another Super Bowl, the Swamp Bats won the NECBL, and the Yankees went the entire decade without even reaching the World Series. Locally, the Walldogs festival was a rousing success, as was Radically Rural. And the City Council finally got the owner of the former Kingsbury Corp. site to pay some of the taxes owed on the property.

But, aside perhaps from personal milestones, that was about it for 2019. This has been a generally gloomy year, full of political nonsense, man-made horrors and terrible acts of God that we will avoid bringing up again here, in deference to the mood of the moment. It would be wonderful if the New Year’s baby or tonight’s ball in Times Square could resolve all those problems. But they can’t. And we are all aware of that, except perhaps for a few moments around midnight.

What do we have to look forward to in 2020? For now, the answer is: Whatever we wish. That’s the appeal of clean slates, artificial or not. There is one quality that we can count on to be in ample supply tonight as the yearly page is turned — and that quality is hope. We can always hope. Hope can trump pessimism. Hope can even trump realism.

We wrote many of these same words more than a decade ago, as the year was coming to a close. And at that time, we noted several things we were hopeful about for the coming year. As we enter 2020, it may be interesting to note which panned out and which we can only reiterate.

“... We hope Congress and the Bush administration will end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on reasonable terms. We hope the Legislature will resolve the New Hampshire school-funding dilemma in a way that is fair to taxpayers and schoolchildren alike. We hope we will all find (or retain) the loves of our lives. We hope the United States will begin to address the challenge of global warming. We hope ground will be broken for a new Cheshire County jail — in a perfect location. We hope the presidential contest will be narrowed down to a handful of supremely qualified candidates. We hope Windows Vista will work better than Windows everything else has. And we hope we’ll lose 10 pounds. Heck, 20 pounds.”

Well, the jail did get built, after all.

Happy New Year.