A lot of ink will be spilled trying to make sense of 2020, a year that makes the Queen's "annus horribilis" (1992) seem like a barrel of laughs in comparison.
How could you compare a few failed marriages and a palace fire to these 12 slow-motion months of mayhem across the globe? This year turned out much like 2020's signature blockbuster, Christopher Nolan's Tenet. It managed to be both action-packed and interminable.
And yet, with our relatively short lockdown and triumphant Covid response, there was nowhere better from which to ride it out than New Zealand.
With highly effective vaccines on the near horizon, we seem likely to escape the pandemic with fewer deaths and less economic damage than almost anywhere else.
That's how the vast majority of Kiwis see it. The election proved that.
Voters were swayed neither by the negative partisanship of a handful of Twitter recalcitrants (who, you may have noticed, have gone strangely quiet on "the Swedish model") or that other scourge of our age - rampant, unfiltered disinformation.
Nothing this year gave me more confidence in the state of New Zealand politics than the humiliating failure at the polls of Billy TK and Advance NZ. That their brand of toxic conspiracy peddling found no meaningful audience here is a healthy sign for our democracy.
That said, it remains incumbent on our political leaders to keep the door firmly closed to that destructive, insidious strain of politics. What worries me most is that the temptation for National, in particular, to mimic other conservative parties around the world by tilling the rich soil of white grievance may prove impossible to resist.
All in all, though, I enter the holiday season in a more festive frame of mind than I would have thought possible in March or August.
Visiting Wellington last week, I was lucky enough to witness some of our Parliament's formidable new talent in action.
Much has rightly been made of new list MP Ibrahim Omer's first speech, in which the former cleaner and union activist weaved his unlikely personal journey as a refugee from war-torn Eritrea into what was a powerful restatement of Labour's core obligations to working people and the poor. Take out the biographical details, and Michael Joseph Savage could have given that speech.
The first-up contribution from the new MP for Mana, Barbara Fati Palepa Edmonds, was no less impressive. Reflecting on her experience growing up in a sprawling household of first-generation Samoan New Zealanders, Edmonds' good humour and pragmatism shone through.
"We had 24 people living in our house at one time," she recalled, "but there were always beds, because as the night shift went out, the day shift came home". As with Omer, the former tax lawyer demonstrated through lived experience, in plain no-nonsense terms, that the interests and aspirations of immigrants and working people of all backgrounds are inextricably bound together.
Some people might term this "intersectionality", but Omer and Edmonds didn't employ a single alienating buzzword between them. I can't tell you how refreshing that is.
Over decades, I've watched my former party fall increasingly under the sway of Ivory Tower elites who think about politics in abstract, ideological terms but who only ever encounter working people during triennial bursts of uncomfortable doorknocking. That's why Edmonds and Omer give me such hope, and why Labour's new intake overall strikes me as the most grounded and talented for a generation.
Back in Auckland, I found further cause for seasonal good cheer - at a school prizegiving, of all places. How inspiring to see kids from every imaginable national, ethnic and religious background take the stage and proudly share their respective whakapapas in perfect reo; to hear their expansive dreams for the future; to witness their passion for tackling climate change and building a fairer, better Aotearoa New Zealand.
I confess to not spending much time at school assemblies in my youth, but I'm pretty sure they were nothing like this. With these kids, I tell you, we're in good hands.
Meanwhile, an ever-shrinking cast of loud-mouth reactionaries was yawping into the wilderness about how a media company should not have apologised for its contribution to Aotearoa New Zealand's racist past.
Who can even summon the energy to argue? These voices, still given outsized platforms, are nonetheless fast fading into a sad and overdue irrelevance.
Of course we still face daunting challenges, not least among them a chronic shortage of social housing, persistent intergenerational poverty, and unacceptable disparities in health and education. These demand bold policy solutions, and Labour is uniquely well-positioned to enact them. Timid incrementalism of the kind that characterised their first term won't cut it. With the requisite political will, 2021 could be a year of transformation - not just "delivery", a hopelessly low bar.
With unmistakable echoes of Norman Kirk, Mana's Barb Edmonds laid out the challenge pretty clearly: "People don't want much," she told Parliament last week, "just someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work, and something to hope for".
As the new MP herself pointed out, governments alone cannot engineer such outcomes - dreams are ultimately ours to realise - but where it can expand the net of opportunity, and take down intractable social and economic barriers, surely it must.
Ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi.
(The old net is cast aside, while the new net goes fishing.)
• Shane Te Pou (Ngāi Tūhoe) is a company director at Mega Ltd, a commentator and blogger and a former Labour Party activist