Watching TV news on New Year’s Eve was a study in contrasts. While lawmakers on Capitol Hill cobbled together a last-minute compromise to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff in Washington, D.C., throngs of cheering revelers gathered in New York City’s Times Square to watch the ball drop and usher in 2013.

We were heartened by the good cheer of the crowd, in spite of the weary mood in the nation’s capital and the general grimness of a year that included mass shootings across the country, continued stress in the economy and gridlock in the halls of Congress.

The smiling faces in Manhattan reminded us that America is a resilient country, where native optimism runs strong even when the headlines prove less than encouraging. That sense of hope is a great resource in this republic, and we know it will come in handy in 2013.

Already, visible signs of the holiday are receding. Christmas trees are making their way to local curbs, and the trimmings of yuletide are descending from storefronts and front porches, headed for another year of storage in garages and attics.

We note the gradual return of routine, the days resuming their prosaic patterns. The view from the car window as we drive to work these January mornings seems less colorful than a month ago, with yards no longer adorned by plastic reindeer and electric crèches.

But the letdown doesn’t last long in south Louisiana. With Christmas now tucked away until next December, we know that carnival season is pretty much here.