We couldn’t end this year’s countdown any other way. The Christmas bells are ringing out today without Shane Macgowan, who wrote this now-iconic song about two people who have so many dashed hopes and so many more sorrows than joys, but they can still hear the choirs and the drunks and the police all singing, and the bells are still ringing out.

The bells are ringing out on another Christmas Day without Kirsty MacColl, who left this world far, far too soon, and without quite a few of the performers in the countdown who left us this year. I think I notice this a little bit more each year as I get older. Maybe you had to say goodbye to some loved ones in 2023 too; there’s a lot about this year that people aren’t going to miss. And yet, with all of that hard stuff happening around us, here we are on December 25th. People are still gathering and singing and laughing and offering toasts today. With a little luck, maybe they can, as the song says, “see a better time when all our dreams come true.”

Here’s to the bells, and to the better times to come, and to getting together each December to enjoy some music. Merry Christmas and happy New Year!