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Last night, mostly in muted celebrations, people around the world said goodbye to a difficult year and rang in 2021. We hope your night was meaningful and enjoyable in its own way.

We are keeping it a bit shorter today. Below, of course, you’ll get the latest news, and some reads that may brighten your day. (There is llama news!) We also have tips on how to keep your resolutions for 2021 if you made any. One takeaway: Don’t be too hard on yourself.

A Morning Read: Search parties, infrared drones and sniffer dogs fanned out across Westchester County, N.Y., this week. They were on the hunt for Gizmo, a missing llama.

Modern Love: A novelist goes on a five-week first date — on a ship bound for Antarctica.

Lives Lived: Born in London and raised on Long Island, Daniel Dumile — the masked rapper best known as MF Doom — has died at 49. Having grown up steeped in early hip-hop influences, he built a lasting underground fan base with his offbeat wordplay and comic-book persona.

Those We’ve Lost: From the pandemic to racial justice protests to the Supreme Court, the news in 2020 seemed shaped by death. Articles by William McDonald, The Times’s obituaries editor, and Daniel J. Wakin, who edits the Times obituary project Those We’ve Lost, look back on the year.

New Year’s resolutions can be difficult to keep. Most people abandon theirs by February, studies show. So here’s some advice if you’re determined to set — and meet — a goal in 2021.

Make it specific and realistic. “Resolutions tend to be too big without any thought about whether they are practical or even possible,” says our colleague Tara Parker-Pope. Resolving to “exercise more” is vague, but resolving to add five or 10 minutes to each workout is measurable.

If you find yourself recycling a goal from years past, consider why it didn’t stick. “The resolution ‘I’m going to lose weight’ doesn’t address the underlying issue of why your diet isn’t as healthful as you want it to be,” Tara says. “Maybe the resolution should be: ‘I’m going to stop buying packaged snack foods and snack on fruits and vegetables instead.’”

Go easy on yourself. If the thought of setting ambitious resolutions feels overwhelming, downsize them into smaller but still satisfying goals. “It’s still important to celebrate that you’re working toward making a positive change,” writes The Times’s Christina Caron.

Consider turning a positive change from 2020 into a longer-term habit. The pandemic will still shape much of 2021. But even after it ends, you may want to build on new habits you’ve developed, whether it’s cooking healthier meals or devoting more time to self-care. “Those things were all front and center during pandemic life,” Tara says. “We should keep them in post-pandemic life.”

Today kicks off a seven-day challenge from Tara and her colleagues on the Well desk to help build positive habits in 2021 and beyond. Today’s challenge is to make gestures of gratitude — like giving larger tips for delivery workers or appreciative texts to friends — a regular part of your day. Sign up for the Well newsletter to receive the next challenge in your inbox.

The pangrams from yesterday’s Spelling Bee were hotline and neolith. Today’s puzzle is above — or you can play online if you have a Games subscription.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Julie Andrews’s role in “The Sound of Music” (five letters).


Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. David Leonhardt is back on Monday. — The Morning team

P.S. A new year’s fact, courtesy of @NYTArchives: The New York Times invented the Times Square Ball Drop in 1907.





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