EDITORIAL: Celebrate safely

As we gather this New Year's Eve to reflect on the past year and to set our sights on the future, we as a community and a country will undoubtedly be counting our many blessings and mourning our many losses. This is a time to remember what is really most important: Family. Friends. Freedom.

For most, the transition from one year to the next is also a time to celebrate. But celebrations can so quickly turn tragic if poor decisions are made regarding drinking and driving.

Parents, hold your children — especially your new drivers — close in the next few days and be sure they understand how much they are loved and valued and how utterly devastated you would be to lose them. Impress upon them their responsibility as new drivers to keep themselves safe, and to ensure the safety of their passengers and their fellow travelers.

Tell your friends and neighbors the same thing — how much they mean to you and how much you long for them to stay safe. Tell your spouse, your parents, everyone you meet. Now is the perfect time to express to those around us that we understand the beauty and blessing of life. We get it — a life cut short shatters us all.

So follow your words of thanksgiving and appreciation with heartfelt pleas to be responsible and smart, to not get behind the wheel after drinking. The slightest error in judgment can change lives forever, and it is simply not worth it.

Be sure to examine your own behavior, too, and be the example you would like those around you to follow. Be a designated driver or be sure to have one. Better yet, choose to stay put when ringing out the old year and welcoming the new.

There is so much to look forward to in the upcoming year. On the cusp of a new beginning, we are inspired to start anew and to enact positive change in our world.

Be sure you and your loved ones do what you can to ensure you are here to be a part of changing the world for the better. Stay safe, and may the new year bring peace to all.