THE trouble with new year's hugs and handshakes is their short lifespan.
Those who have not received theirs by the end of the week might have to wait for next year for their share. It is symbolic in that way: say the nice things and get on with the life of work as soon as possible.
For South Africa 2010 represents a dream year. It is the year of the World Cup, probably our greatest achievement since we returned to the family of nations after three decades of apartheid-induced isolation.
The promised legacy of the tournament will mean nothing if the spoils are only enjoyed by the administrators and other privileged persons.
We also face other steep challenges that have to be dealt with now. With the local government elections edging ever closer we can anticipate the rise of service delivery protests orchestrated in and outside of the ruling party.
We will require strong leadership from the top to navigate the waters stretching out ahead of us.
We start the year as the most unequal society on the planet. We expect those in charge of government policy to place mechanisms in place to ensure that by the end of it we have gone to some lengths to ensure we don't end it in the same shameful position.
But as with the new year's messages, it is never a good idea to dwell too much on them and do nothing to ensure that it becomes a prosperous new year. It is time to get to work.