The year 2020. I wonder how it will be described when we are grandparents? This is what I think we’ll say.
The year nature and disease forced us – really gave us – no choice but to slow down.
The year that had only just begun but would be written in history books. The year that the entire Earth was united to do several things: to stop a virus from spreading and to save as many people as it could. It was the year of a lot of universal heartbreak, not from a traditional war that we are used to seeing on the news but a war of visually unseen enemies. Later, it was also a time of protests, activism, and confronting systemic racism in America. There were lives lost. There was grieving and pain and suffering.
It was the year where work and careers changed for all.
It was the year that some of the bravest amongst us – healthcare workers, immunocompromised, the small business owners, the self-employed, the creatives – were all shaken to their core. It was the year we saw the true colours of “big business” and whether they supported their most vulnerable employees. Some did, some didn’t. It was also a terrible time in which unemployment skyrocketed.
It was the year that we began to truly appreciate people and relationships.
Though the distance that we found ourselves in was painful and difficult, it made us appreciate friends and family more. 2020 was the year we truly and deeply appreciated living in a time with modern technology to see and talk to our loved ones. The year Grandparents babysat over Skype; the year where we began to prioritize what is important in our lives. We accepted our limitations and tried to be kind to ourselves.
It was the year we tried to build relationships and communities, even when apart.
We wanted to really see all people and listen to them; to educate them and be with them. It was the year we felt grateful for the safety of our home spaces and grateful for the safety of the gardens, balconies, or terraces while simultaneously missing our favorite places and spaces. We remembered the comfort and coziness that curling up and reading a book feels like. It was the year we realized how much we love nature’s big open spaces and the joy of being in them.
It was the year we renewed our joy in the simple things.
People remembered what board games were and what talking long into the night felt like. It was the year when looking out for one another was brought to the front of everyone’s minds. Shopping locally became not only convenient but a means for supporting small businesses. It was the year when thousands of people become more creative: they drew, sculpted, painted, created, knitted, and more. People became in tune with the flow of their mental health and the importance of monitoring it.
It was the year of health in all forms.
People began running and discovering home fitness classes. More children saw parents doing exercise and began doing their own exercise. More dog walking happened. More family walks happened. More bike rides happened. In 2020, alone time became important, and practicing mindfulness became extra vital.
It was a year for the family.
It was the year parents were stressed out. Parents and children fought more often but also became closer and relied more on each other. 2020 was the year when siblings were at each other’s throats but were also so thankful they had each other. The year where more blanket forts were built and board games were played. More child authors created and more adventures were planned. It was the year where childhood imagination blossomed and more fancy dress costumes were regularly worn. Crafts and garden play happened with frequency. It was the year more family meals and more movie nights under duvets happened.
And despite the high unemployment and loss of jobs, it was also a good year for certain businesses.
It was the year Disney+ made a killing in memberships. Supermarkets and antibacterial manufacturers made their millions and couldn’t keep up with the demand. Vineyards began to deliver wine and gin distilleries began to make antibacterial products. Mask makers were also in high demand. It was the year pasta, rice, and loo rolls were more precious than gold. Coffee machines and milk frothers were a necessity at home, and managing to get a food Click And Collect or Home Delivery felt like winning the lottery.
It was the year we realized some people never washed their hands or covered their sneezes before.
It was made for those who liked personal space and those who used to wipe down trolleys before 2020. It was made for those who practised social distancing before it became a necessity. It was the year we realized our heroes don’t wear capes and live in underground caves, but wear protective masks and gloves (if they could find any) and worked in hospitals. They taught the children of those heroes. They stocked our food shelves and delivered food and mail; they protected our countries; they ran our countries.
And it was a year of change, for many people and in many ways.
Jobs were lost and businesses closed. Loved ones were taken too soon. Graduations and birthday parties were canceled. A virus changed everything in our lives, from how we expressed affection to how we shopped at our grocery store. People were tired, sick, frustrated, and scared. Yet we saw real change – positive and negative – emerge from all of these things.
It wasn’t an easy year.
It was a very different and difficult year. We missed each other, painfully so. Worse than that, we lost many people. We missed our freedom of coming and going. Our mental health fluctuated, and so did our weight. We had tough conversations and forced ourselves to confront societal injustices and issues.
But, I think perhaps we also learned a lot that we may not have otherwise. 2020 will go down in the history books, and our children and grandchildren (and their grandchildren) will have plenty of questions about this year. I just hope we can remember all of it – the good and the bad – to pass on to the next generations.