Sunrise Over Ocean

By Molly Butler

It’s New Year’s weekend.

This was supposed to be a time of giddy excitement. Champagne and sparklers. We stay up ‘til midnight and celebrate all the things we’ve accomplished over the year and set new goals on a fresh calendar. But, this year doesn’t seem quite right. I feel like the Grinch, trying to find Christmas in boxes and bows. There’s something missing. Maybe, it’s enthusiasm. Maybe, it’s hope.

Folks, the last year has been absolutely brutal. We’re all so tired of this pandemic. Lives lost. Canceled events. Financial hardship. Isolation. And, of course, all the politicized divisions turned personal. Families falling apart. Neighbors hating neighbors. The worst of us is starting to show. On top of that horrendous turd pile, it seems nearly everyone I love has been struggling in new and terrible ways. Hospitalizations. Mental health struggles. Stress. Divorce. A literal house fire. We buried three pets this year. I don’t mean to complain. There were good times too. But damn. I can’t wait for this stupid year to be over with.

If you know me, reader, you know I can’t conclude with negativity. After all, this is the High Notes, and as my husband says, I am “a perpetual optimist.” Sigh. It’s true. So, if we’re going to indulge in some doom, gloom and apocalypse, we should probably find our way to a silver lining.

Figure out what mountain of crap you let get between you and your dreams and start shoveling, baby!

These last few years have had their lessons. How to be resilient. How to be patient and kind. They’ve taught us what really matters. That’s a gift: having one’s priorities straight. Life is short and time is the most precious resource. Where are you wasting it? Where is your life passing you by? What is that thing you keep pushing off, pushing off, someday, someday? This is the year. It has to be.

Say no to your unnecessary, people-pleasing, time-wasting bullsh*t. Get other people’s priorities off your plate. Dig out that old bucket list. Dust off the woodshop or rock-climbing equipment or check craigslist for those backyard chickens you keep saying you’ll get, but you never do. Buy the tickets. Build the elaborate hamster cage. Finally finish that knitting or writing or painting. Climb the mountain. Get the tattoo. Do the thing. Whatever it is. Figure out what mountain of crap you let get between you and your dreams and start shoveling, baby! Let’s enter this year like it’s our last because, hey. You never know. It might be.

Happy New Year, my friends. Let’s make it a good one.


It’s New Year’s Eve, and there are several fabulous parties to attend! The Wine Café will host a 70’s Rock New Year’s Eve party beginning at 4 p.m. Enjoy hippie tunes and rock out ‘til the new year! Or, head to Patrick’s on Third in St. Peter for their NYE Celebration, featuring specials, party favors, photo ops and a FREE champagne toast at midnight! Party starts at 4 p.m. Need a laugh? Turner Hall in New Ulm will host a NYE Comedy Show featuring David Harris, Linda Aarons and Ben Marcotte! Get your tickets here to enjoy dinner and a show!

Miller Denn will be at Indian Island Winery in Janesville from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Catch Crista Bohlmann at the WOW! Zone in Mankato beginning at 6 p.m. The Amy Manette Band will be at the Mankato Playhouse for their New Year’s Eve Party at the Playhouse, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Spinners Bar and Grill will host Tri Eight, and Loose Gravel will be at the North Mankato American Legion Post 518, both starting at 8 p.m. Catch the Canyon Cowboys at Mully’s on Madison from 8:30 p.m. ‘til close, then wrap up the night with Nate Boots and The High Horses at the Circle Inn on Belgrade.


Welcome to the New Year! Let’s hope 2022 is good to us all. Start the year out right with a First Day Hike at Minneopa State Park! From 10-11 a.m., enjoy the gorgeous winter landscape on this guided hike. To participate, meet the Group Campground off Highway 68. Make sure to wear weather-appropriate clothing and shoes and be prepared for slippery and uneven walking conditions. Depending on snow conditions, snowshoes might be a fun choice! This is also a great weekend to start the year out right and get outside! Hike, ice fish, or ski/snowboard/tube at Mt. Kato!

The Mankato Brewery will host a FREE Brewery Tour beginning at 3 p.m. All ages are welcome, 21+ can sample for free, and pints are available for purchase! I need to try their new amber ale! Head to Patrick’s on Third in St. Peter for The Lost Walleye Trio’s “Big as the Moon” CD Release! Enjoy live music, great food, delicious drinks, and of course, pick up your fresh “Big as the Moon” CD, perfect for anyone and everyone who’s ever been in love!


Gustavus Women’s Basketball will take on UW-Stout at 2 p.m. at Gustavus Adolphus College, while MSU’s Men’s Basketball will host a game against Concordia-St. Paul. Stick around for MSU’s Women’s Basketball, also against Concordia, at 4 p.m.

The Dork Den will host Sunday Warhammer 40k: Crusade from 5-8 p.m. Entry fee is $20 per month, with drawings for prizes throughout the month.

Added Value: Gift On

What did you get for Christmas? Maybe some brand new items that just aren’t your taste? Duplicates? Did the kids outgrow their winter coats? As you sort through your new Christmas socks, boots and mittens, this is a great time to see what excess is ready to be donated. Put your gently used or brand-new items to good use by giving to local groups like Connections or CADA. Always be sure to check their needed items listings or call ahead to make sure they can accept your donation, and of course, they always accept financial support if you’ve got some extra Christmas cash burning a hole in your pocket! Thank you for your community support!


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.