From my tiny perch in the north, I am declaring 2020 "the year of muddling through somehow."
Muddle: to cope in a more or less satisfactory way despite lack of expertise, planning, or equipment.
Uh, yes!! 2020, you were....well... we were just not prepared for you to be so...mudd-ly.
Does anyone else feel like they are trying to pick up the semblance of Christmas this year and hang it on a tree? We have done some of the typical things; the tree, the lights, the cookies. I play all the standard Christmas songs and try to remember what it was like when we could host a meal or have our family come over.
The song, "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has been especially powerful for me this year.
"Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more"
Ah yes, golden days of yore, otherwise known as 2019. My Facebook feed is full of happy family dinners and gatherings where we all sat close, sang songs and spread germs everywhere.
I remember when the first lockdown happened before advertisers had a chance to switch over to heartwarming, "we are all in this together" messaging; I saw an ad for IKEA that said, "the people are coming." Shawn and I looked at each other and said, "Nope, the people are not coming. No one is coming."
Things felt so different at the beginning of all of this. We were cheering on our front lawn with pots and pans for our front line workers. I kid you not; there was practically a full-blown parade outside the hospital every night at 7. We went one night, and there were fire trucks and police cars, the antique car club and few hot rods ready to honk their horns and cheer on the ones who were keeping us safe.
When we did go out, we were in line. We lined up everywhere. We would line up outside the store. Then we would line up inside the store. We would Lysol our hands, then our cart and some people I know would even wipe down their groceries when they got home from the store.
We all learned how to zoom call. We dressed nicely on top and wore shorts (or whatever) on the bottom. We tried to have professional conversations while our kids beat down our doors demanding popsicles or technology.
We had drive-by birthday parties where kids stood on their lawns waving as friends in their decorated cars, threw packages out their windows.
We did school from home (In retrospect, I think this is where I lost my mind). I have four children. At that time I had a Grade 5, grade 4, and twin boys in two different grade 2 classes. The teachers were terrific. The school was exceptional, they did everything they could to help, but it was a dumpster fire from the first day.
What would our 2019 selves think of us?
All of our predictions and cheesy slogans like 2020 - the year of perfect vision - it was all too accessible and convenient.
And all the while, we were not gathering. All those Fixer Upper vintage "Gather" signs hung on our walls and mocked us.
I live in Canada; my family lives in the US. Other than a weird, across a ditch, meeting in September, I have not seen them for almost a year.
That has been hard, but I know we don't have the worst of it. I ache for those who have lost loved ones, and they could not see them, sit with them or hold them in their last days.
One of our friends decided to grow a beard during quarantine just to see how long it would get before the pandemic was over. Now, he looks like Tom Hanks on Castaway.
And people are so angry. They are tired, and they are scared (in my humble opinion, some of us are spending a little too much time on the internet, but I get it, we are all trying to make sense of our chaos).
We are muddling (here it is again: to cope in a more or less satisfactory way despite lack of expertise, planning, or equipment).
But one day soon, we all be together, if the Lord allows. This year, we will have to muddle through somehow. (Little side note here: these are the original lyrics to the song. Frank Sinatra wanted it "jollied up a little," so they changed the words to "hang a shining star upon the highest bough").
I have always believed that adversity introduces us to ourselves (it is widely believed that Einstein said this, and since the internet is universally reliable, I am going with it). I have watched every level of society in these adverse times and wondered what we are becoming? What are we learning? If we are being introduced to ourselves, do we like us? Would we hang out with us, in a socially distant but covid acceptable way?
There have been a few surprises this year, and not all of them are bad. We know our neighbours better. We have spent so much time together as a family. We have, despite it all, made great memories.
Together, you and me, we are living through a pandemic. God willing, it is a once in a lifetime horror story that is going to fade away in 2021. I am just left wondering what are we coming out with?
Lessons about perseverance and humility? Gratitude? A deep commitment to community? A richer faith in the God who holds it all together?
I hope so.
Keep the faith, my friends. There is much to be grateful for. We will have rich stories to tell, and God willing, we will emerge stronger and better than we were in golden days, pre-covid.
This season, may you find time to recharge and reflect on this year that has been, to use a way over-used phrase, unprecedented.
Enjoy Christmas, whatever it looks like for you this year; muddling and all. Hopefully, next year, we will all be together again.