At the close of this historically terrible year, it is hard to know exactly what to say in a post that aims to describe how the year went for Mike and me, as well as our current state of mind. But I’ll try. After all, that is why I am writing this post in the first place. To help me process it more. So here it is, our 2020 year in review.
Let’s pull back the curtain and begin, as I usher you backstage into our story.
Blissful January & February
It is sad to the point of being almost humorous to compare the beginning of 2020 to what transpired since early March. The typical “Happy New Year” pronouncements were made, as well as lofty proclamations of having “2020 vision,” for an unprecedented year of growth and fulfillment. The irony of that, in retrospect, is as thick and rich as the eggnog in our mugs.
As February drew to a close, and concerns about the worldwide spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19, were growing rapidly, that is when things changed in a way that few could have anticipated.
March and “14 Days to Slow the Spread”
By the first full week of March, governors around the U.S. were calling for lockdowns and stay at home orders for 14 days to slow the alarming spread of the virus, so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed with people who had contracted COVID.
Taking a cue from Italy, which if I recall, was one of the first countries to have a widespread crisis and significant death toll, governors extended the lockdown orders to include dictates of what businesses were essential, and could therefore remain open, and which businesses were not.
As an aside, I wonder, aren’t all businesses, whose owners and their employees rely on them to make a living, essential to them? How it is the government’s business or right to tell businesses if and how they can remain open?
14+14+30 x the rest of the year
Though the details vary by region, the initial 14-day lockdowns turned to an additional 14 days. Which turned into an additional 30. Then 30 more. We thought for sure things would go back to normal by the end of May.
But here we are in December 2020, and things are very much the same as they were in early March. (Although now the COVID vaccine is starting to make the rounds.) Now, clearly, there are many complicated factors in why that is. My aim is not to turn this post into a political piece or debate any elements of what is going on. While I reserve the right to write about that later, all I aim to do here is to recount how the year has unfolded according to my memories and perceptions.
My initial reaction to quarantine
As I settled into reality in March that we had at least two months of quarantine (which at the time was set to expire at the end of April), I was torn between fear, uneasiness, and delight.
Fear because there was so little known about the virus. The initial models showed a bleak picture. We didn’t know how severe it was, how it spread, etc. So many unknowns warranted a bit of a panic.
My uneasiness stemmed from governors seizing unprecedented, and I believe unconstitutional, powers to decree the state of affairs for businesses in light of the virus. I mentioned my questioning concern about that above.
As an aside, I’m all for taking every reasonable precaution against the spread of the virus. I have and will continue to do so, especially around those that are most vulnerable.
The delight I felt was as a busy, overscheduled introvert who had a massive amount of work and continued education to do on behalf of my business. I wrote about that earlier this year in posts about social distancing, and introverts’ reaction to things opening back up.
Having 4-6 weeks where I was expected to stay home was the perfect excuse to get cracking on my far-too-ambitious list of projects.
The beat goes on. Into May.
Then the lockdowns (at least in my state) were extended through May. With a four-phase plan to open things back up per the virus caseload by county. While I understood the reasoning and complied with the pronouncements, I was starting to get a little cranky about the indefinite lockdown extensions. Were you?
As we were approaching summertime, and a full schedule of pre-booked camping trips, my eyes narrowed with disgust as our Memorial Day plans were foiled due to the continued shuttering of campgrounds.
Summertime is when we cram in as much camping and other outdoor and family/friends gatherings as we can, to take advantage of the short season of beautiful weather in the Pacific Northwest. If you mess with my summer plans, heads are gonna roll, people!
A peek at somewhat normal over the summer
As our area began to move into phase 2, things started looking up. Our June camping trip, teetering on the verge of cancelation, was able to proceed as planned. Wahoo! A relaxing couple of nights on the Oregon Coast with friends was just was our cooped up, overworked selves needed.
The rest of the summer, other than the usual working long hours, included a family vacation, and three more camping trips with friends.
A word of caution
Something I’ve noticed this year, as normal social interactions have been systematically disallowed and mask mandates have become the norm, is this. More and more commercials and other media have reflected the current state of affairs, showing models and characters wearing masks. Something to which most of us have become accustomed.
On quite a few occasions, when watching a movie, video, or viewing pictures from pre-2020, I’ve heard someone else comment, “Oh! They aren’t social distancing!” Or, “Look at all the people in that crowd without a mask on. Yikes!”
While those sort of comments seem natural, they represent a couple of problems. The most obvious is an anachronism. In this context, that means applying current standards and perceptions to things that were created before those standards were in place.
n. The representation of someone as existing or something as happening in other than chronological, proper, or historical order.
n. An error in respect to dates; any error which implies the misplacing of persons or events in time; hence, anything foreign to or out of keeping with a specified time.
I urge anyone who has found themselves doing that to think carefully about the mental trap into which they may have fallen. This brings me to my second concern, the fact that as a culture we’ve already been jammed enough to even think thoughts like that.
In just a short nine months (at the time of this writing), our entire culture has been turned upside down. We no longer see each other’s full faces, and many are afraid to shake hands, hug, or even be in close vicinity with other people. (For reasons that are understandable, to be sure.)
That is not normal. Yet, it has become accepted as normal. I’ll write more about this soon.
My point in taking this slight rabbit trail is to challenge you to think more deeply about how you might have been affected in this area.
Fourth-quarter: the fall is upon us
Mike and I counted ourselves blessed that neither our regular jobs nor our side businesses have been too affected by the tumult of 2020. My new client inquiries all but halted at the onset of COVID in the spring, only to come back with new vitality come summer.
Similarly, Mike’s watercolor business sputtered for a few months but has been steady for quite a while now. We acknowledge that this is the gracious provision of our Lord behind it all.
As we ponder the many reasons this year has been terrible, we find ourselves staring clear-eyed at the possibilities for the future with a complex blend of emotions.
This year saw not-so-wonderful items such as:
- The sudden passing of my dear Aunt Linda, who was a wonderful woman of faith in Christ and a source of abundant joy for all who knew her
- The death of our beloved kitty Velma (the day before Aunt Linda died, no less!), who was only 15 months old
- A growing disgust with politics, the entire election season, increased volatility on social media, and mounting instances of big tech censorship against voices dissenting from the mainstream narrative
- Wildfires that enveloped our region in September, displacing many and destroying the natural beauty of thousands of acres
Yet, we are most grateful that:
- Our lives and jobs have been minimally disrupted
- We are homebodies anyway, so being forced to stay home was not a big disturbance for us
- We enjoy each other’s company, which is helpful in light of the above
- 2020 was our 10th anniversary. We were able to sneak in a quick trip to Miami, Florida to celebrate
- This year has given us the chance to expand our culinary creativity. Date nights in with home-cooked meals became the norm.
- After six months with just one cat, we welcomed orange-delight Roger into our home in November
- We’ve really honed in on being content with the simple pleasures in life, and being mindful of that contentment
While 2020 will likely go down in history as an irredeemable year of tragedy and loss (and rightly so), we remain hopeful. As we’ve seen a secular worldview come to prominence in the United States, we grimace, but hold on to our faith in God.
As Christ-followers in a world that mostly hates Him, we’ve come to live and be at peace with the tension that comes from existing in a fallen world, where we serve Him, while also simultaneously awaiting His glorious return.
We grieve as we observe all the hurt and pain in the world that results from the sinfulness of humanity. Yet we rejoice in knowing that God is achieving His purposes, for His glory, and all that He wills to accomplish will be made known in due time.
We pray for friends, family, and strangers the world over — that they would come to know the true peace that only comes from a right relationship with the Creator God through Christ Jesus.
With no idea what the future holds, we thank the Lord for each day we have and count our blessings regularly.
What is something you’ve learned in 2020? I’d love to hear in the comments.
Thank you for reading this post!