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Listeners ring in the new year, with good food and reason to hope

ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:

Happy New Year. Many of us are glad to say goodbye to 2021, a year that we hoped would bring not only vaccines but also the end of the locked down nightmare that was 2020. Then came delta, and now the rapidly spreading omicron variant. For a lot of people, the end of the year felt like a case of lockdown deja vu. But any new year brings possibility and a reason for hope, so that's what we're starting the show with today. We asked our listeners to send us voice memos as they rang in the new year and to tell us what's giving them optimism for 2022.

KENNETH BROWN JR: After New Year's, my parents would get me and my siblings our own pizzas.

FLORIDO: Twenty-four-year-old Kenneth Brown Jr. of Bloomington, Ind., celebrated by keeping a delicious family tradition alive.

BROWN: And so this year, tonight I will order a pizza and eat that shortly after the ball drops, with a glass of sparkling cider.

FLORIDO: He says he sees the new year as an opportunity.

BROWN: The thing that is making me feel optimistic is that we get every day to try and to begin again to right the wrongs of the past days, to think about what more we can do for the future.

FLORIDO: Brown wasn't the only one ringing in the new year with a feast.

DAWN DENHAM: We're enjoying an evening of seafood for our pescatarian friends and honey baked ham for the meat eaters.

FLORIDO: That's Dawn Denham. She and her family hosted a small gathering at home in Fort Mitchell, Ky.

DENHAM: Lots of sweets and champagne. And we're so excited to welcome in the new year with optimism that more moments will feel this wonderful in 2022. Cheers to you, and cheers to hope that the future holds a society that heals and cares for one another in a way that restores our spirits.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Happy New Year.

FLORIDO: Others we heard from chose to reunite with family and friends yet again without leaving their own homes.

KAREN RODRIGUES: My name is Karen Rodrigues, and my husband Cliff and I will be hosting our second annual Zoom New Year's Eve.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Counting down) 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - Happy New Year.

RODRIGUES: We are hopeful that in the new year we will be together again for our annual New Year's Eve gathering. And we wish you all the most happy, safe, healthy new year we can possibly wish. Happy New Year.

FLORIDO: And Cosmo Baker, a Philadelphia DJ, hosted a New Year's Eve party - from his home, of course.

COSMO BAKER: So I'll be bringing a dance party to people around the globe, while they are also inside.

You all got some hope?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOPE")

ALEX METRIC: (Rapping) Hope - because I've learned to cope.

BAKER: We all got hope.

FLORIDO: The think he's looking forward to in 2022?

BAKER: I'm definitely looking forward to the future, though, when we can all celebrate and dance together.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOPE")

METRIC: (Rapping) Hope - because I've learned to cope.

Hope - because I've learned to cope.

Hope - because I've learned to cope.

Hope - because I've learned to cope. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.