Tomorrow, we see the end of 2020 — aka the year of COVID! There’s no way to think of the year except that it was a beast of a year.
For me, 2020 began with the usual hopes, dreams, and resolutions. As is my custom, I chose a word of the year (WOTY). The word was determination. I chose this word to remind myself that determination would help me achieve some new habits. I also had plans to continue good habits from previous years such as regular exercise, reading several books each month to keep up with 3 bookclubs, and continuing my bridge lessons. In the first few weeks of the year, everything proceeded uneventfully.
Through the month of February, at our weekly family dinners, our son kept warning us about a pneumonia-like virus spreading in Wuhan, China and popping up in Italy and other parts of Europe. He was preparing for this epidemic (as the Coruna virus was then known) to come to Canada. He urged us to stock up on food, household supplies, and prescribed medications. He also admonished us to stop going to the gym, to skip theatre and movie outings, to curtail socializing, and to forget restaurant meals. We listened to him but wondered if he was over-reacting.
Everything changed in March. I remember watching a televised newsfeed in the locker room of my gym when the head of the World Health Organization stated that COVID-19 was no longer an epidemic but had reached pandemic level. The date was March 12.
I was shocked. I went home and stayed home.
Since that day, my husband and I have lived in relative isolation never thinking that this pandemic would last so long nor cause such disruption. Initially, staying at home was a novelty, but it quickly turned into uncertainty. We nervously watched newscasts, binged on Netflix, and learned to rely on technology for online purchases, banking, and socialization (thank you, Zoom!). Masks and disinfectant wipes were essentials whenever we left the house. After a bit of a reprieve during the summer, the second wave hit Canada. Our Christmas present from the premier of Ontario was another lockdown order effective at 12:01 am on Boxing Day.
Once the pandemic hit and we faced our first lockdown, I realized the full importance of my WOTY, determination. I had to make adjustments to my lifestyle. but more than ever, I needed every ounce of determination that could be mustered. Daily walks, yoga, hand weights, and the recumbent bike replaced sessions at the gym. My knitting needles served as fidget gadgets when I felt anxious. I learned to appreciate my cookbook collection as my kitchen got a daily workout. Online bridge substituted for live games.
Celebrating the End of 2020
To celebrate the end of the strangest year in memory, we are going to hang out as a couple either at our cottage (weather permitting) or at home. Staying put is a welcome reprieve from cultural norms and social coercion to party the night away. We’re too old for a party at a dance club and there is no option for a celebratory New Year’s Eve dinner at a restaurant as restaurants in Ontario are closed except for take-out.
Instead, we’ll cook something special and open a bottle of champagne over which we will indulge in some of the usual reflections about key events of the year. I turned 75, a milestone birthday, and my husband turned 85, another milestone! We’ve made it through almost 10 months of the pandemic without major health issues. We are still friends and happy in our marriage of 50 plus years.
New Year’s Eve is also a time to express gratitude. Since mid-June, we’ve been permitted a social ‘bubble’ of up to 10 people. This allowed us to see our son, daughter-in-law, and our two grandchildren. Getting hugs from our family and having them visit for summer weekends at the cottage was important for everyone’s mental health. We’ll remember our friends who stayed in touch whether with socially distanced visits outdoors, emails, or Zoom calls.
At midnight, we’ll toast a new year — a year to start afresh even if we remain in the throes of the pandemic. Knowing that we are living in the ‘waiting room’ for a vaccine for which our turn will come in the next few months, brings a sense of hope.
Finally, I wish every reader a happy and healthy new year. I’m grateful for your support and readership.