Happy New Year to everyone! Somehow we have made it through another difficult year, but I guess we can all take a bit of comfort in knowing that it’s not just us, it’s been tough for the entire world right now. I’m hoping that 2022 brings us all a bit closer together to work on getting past this pandemic and all the repercussions that go with it. I know sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but little by little we are making progress in getting things back to normal.

Every year we look back at all the things we have experienced, and quite frankly it always seems to be the negative stuff that comes to mind first. People who have died, news stories about disasters and personal issues that have occurred over the past year. Then we start to look at some of the good things. I guess it’s just that a lot of times the negative memories have more impact on us.

But, a new year is just that. It’s new. Time to look forward and plan on making this year a good one.

The key word in that last sentence is “plan.” If you are determined to move in a positive direction and take a little action to get there, that usually has better results that just sitting back and letting all the chips fall where they may. 

So, looking forward, there’s a lot of things out there that will bring a smile to your face and if you set those in your sights, I can promise that next year’s memory bank will be filled with good ones. But don’t make the mistake of setting yourself up for disappointment. Every year people make unrealistic resolutions, and that just leads to failure. Keep it simple and build from there. Just getting up in the morning and telling yourself that you are going to find something to laugh about today is a good place to start. Then look for something happening tomorrow that will make you happy. Then something next week. Right now, I am looking forward to ordering a new drum set that won’t be back in stock until the end of March. That’s making me feel really good. Sometimes just looking at that frozen pizza sitting in my freezer when I get home at two in the morning is enough to make me pretty glad that I planned ahead and bought one in the first place. I’m 62 years old. It doesn’t take that much to make me happy anymore. 

So, New Year’s Day it might be watching a football game or having dinner with friends and family that makes you smile. The next day it might just be that you don’t have to shovel snow off the driveway (if our current weather pattern holds) and next week you might want to start planning on going to this year’s Ullrgrass Music and Beer Festival that’s happening on the last weekend in January. 

What’s Ullrgrass? It’s a three day festival named for the Norse God of Winter, Uller. You pronounce that “ooler,” like “cooler” without the “c.” Basically, it’s one of Golden’s signature events that bring the kind of live music and beer party, usually reserved for Summer, to the middle of Winter. Instead of beach clothes, people go with more of a warm Viking themed motif and don’t worry about the weather.

This year’s Ullrgrass is going to be happening from Friday, Jan. 29 through Sunday Jan. 31 in Parfet Park here in Golden. That’s on the corner of 10th Street and Washington Ave. The music happens on two alternating stage all three days, but the beer festival, featuring a lot of craft beers, is just on Saturday from noon-4 p.m. They have a really diverse musical line-up every year that features bluegrass, newgrass, funk and jambands. The evening shows on Friday and Saturday night will take place under heated big top tents. Sunday is “Family Day” at UllrGrass featuring a Virtuosity Dance performance at Noon, an UllrEgg Hunt, Costume Parade, craft activities and games. Food trucks provide a variety of tasty treats all weekend long and there will be some cool vendors there as well.

For more information, schedule and tickets go to ullrgrass.com. So, now you have something fun to plan on and smile about at the end of the month. After that, you can start planning on the 4th of July.

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at jaimaging@aol.com