In 2020, all three classical music stations I listen to started playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving – usually anathema – and they all gave the same apology for it: wasn’t it a year well worth hurrying on its way out? True, but it was a whole year of our lives. Wasn’t it good for something?
I’ve come across many considerations of this question, often with interesting results. The New York Times points out that we all “stand this week as the living footnotes of tomorrow’s textbooks.” I like that. Some found that “there’s some pieces of normalcy that I don’t really want back.”
In the Washington Post George Will, or anyway his headline writer, said “2020 was a booster shot against human hubris.” He hoped for a better “appreciation of the fragility of life and social arrangements.”
The LA Times said “the success of measures to make voting easier and more convenient,” might even be expanded in the future. It also made us realize that “overcrowded airports, long lines and baggage fees” were not the worst things for travelers to worry about.
Several writers have noted that this plague was a demonstration of how, all across the planet, we are irrevocably interdependent. I think this was what motivated the outrage of those who protested being required to wear masks. They said it violated their liberty, but what it really violated was their wish that they, their communities, maybe all the U.S., were and could remain separate from that whole rest of the world, whose influence they saw as something pernicious that could, should, and would be kept at bay. An old, deep strain of American thought, tapped by recent politicians but not invented by them.
If adversity builds character, what a lot of character we all must have now. Let’s hope we can use it to muster the strength to give up ideas that have outlived their relevance. For gardeners, the return of seed catalogs reaffirms that a new season is approaching, filled with possibility. Old favorites and new varieties, the tried-and-true and the experimental, it’s all there to choose from. I greet my seed catalogs with a smile, looking forward. Happy New Year!