This year, most people I know are citing survival as their greatest accomplishment. Most of us barely went anywhere and because of that, we feel like we didn’t do anything. Honestly, I think most of us braved trials and tribulations much more difficult than we would have in a more normal year; I think “survival,” for most of us, encompasses a great many more accomplishments than a whole checklist of quantifiable goals. We had our weaknesses exposed and we couldn’t breeze past them. Some of us thrived in these circumstances, some are still struggling, and some went into denial. However we got through–those of us who are lucky enough, sincerely, to have gotten to the end of this year with our lives–I think most of us would say it was complicated. Too much to unpack in an end-of-the-year round-up. So we say, “We survived.”
This year got derailed, yes. My family took a February trip to Disneyland, when the whispers of Covid were still vague and distant. It was right about the time we got home that the first confirmed case landed in the USA, in the very hospital where I gave birth to my son seven years before. My husband had planned–for Valentine’s Day, I think, or maybe Mother’s Day, but the timeline is a bit smeary–to give me the gift of a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. That obviously got cancelled but I got to visit Iceland virtually when Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga came to Netflix–a timely release, for me, which played on repeat for a couple of weeks.
I spent a lot of time in front of the TV, hibernating. I watched the first six seasons of Dark Shadows while crocheting an enormous, wonky blanket from all the partial skeins of yarn I’d accumulated over the years. I made the obligatory sourdough starter (Neville) and eventually left him out on the counter too long, where he molded. I rearranged my living room and dining room (now classroom) about seventeen times. I started decorating for Christmas two weeks before Thanksgiving and I didn’t regret it.
Then there was distance learning, which evolved into actual homeschooling. There was my stint with Noom (which I should really write about sometime) during which I lost about twenty pounds. There was a pretty successful NaNoWriMo. But the things that really stand out about 2020, to me, are the small things–the oddball details–that made the year truly unique for my family. For example:
There’s a nonprofit called Popcorn for the People that was created to employ adults with Autism. On their website, I learned a fun fact: popcorn kernels found in a cave in New Mexico were carbon dated and shown to be approximately 5,600 years old.
One of my favorite authors, Lydia Millet, has a book on the longlist for the National Book Award for Fiction.
Regarding my adventures in homeschooling: my best way for me–an English major and avid reader whose only poor grades were ever in science class–to teach science is most definitely reading (and rereading and applying the lessons from) The Magic School Bus.
Washington State not only has a state bird, a state flower, and a state tree. It also has a state fossil: the Columbian Mammoth. It was established as the state fossil thanks to the efforts of a group of elementary school students.
And the quote of the week:
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
There are so many great Christmas movies and TV specials–too many to watch in one year, really. And how do you make Christmas special if not by watching other people’s special Christmases on TV? Here’s a list of some specials I have to watch every year–sometimes over and over again. You might have to search a little to find some of these, especially now that Fox has removed their shows from the popular streaming services, but they’re all worth the effort. I promise. (And that last one is available on Netflix!) Continue reading “TV Christmas Specials To Watch Over and Over”→