Holiday decorating meets survivor humor
It’s the 2020 Holiday season. Every year I buy an ornament for our tree, and I’ve decided to veer away from our standard Star Wars collectible. I’ve seen a score of 2020 gag ornaments, all of which have made me laugh. They range from a roll of toilet paper, to Dr Fauci’s head, to a masked Santa. My personal favorite, however–a dumpster on fire.
Clearly, we’ve had a hell of a year. We’re incorporating its events into our holiday decorations to bring a little levity to our lives. But I’ll spare you the 2020 recap. If you can’t remember what’s happened…just look at the ornaments.
Why I hated on 2020
This was supposed to be a great year for me. I’d been looking forward to 2020 for some time since it marked my 40th birthday and my 5th wedding anniversary. But due to Covid-19, my Ireland vacation got waylaid, and my milestone b-day celebration devolved into carryout and a movie on Amazon Prime.
I felt pretty sorry for myself.
Lest you think that missing a vacation constitutes trauma in my life–not so. The big things also found me: unemployment, hospitalization, relationship problems, a lawsuit, and other Corona accoutrements.
I kept looking around for Ashton Kutcher–was I being Punk’d?
Since I didn’t see him or Candid Camera, I got in the habit of blaming anything that went wrong on 2020. If I couldn’t get an appointment scheduled… It’s 2020! I gained weight...It’s only because of quarantine! Stubbed my toe? That is the 2020ist shit I’ve EVER heard of! What else could I do? Screaming into pillows wasn’t helping, and I wanted to kick the door in. (Or rather, out. We were all inside.)
When I look at a half-full glass, I just assume dump it out and fill it with whiskey. I didn’t want to hear meaningless platitudes, or suffer one more pet-centric ‘We’re-In-This Together’ meme. I’m clearly no Pollyanna.
But last week the absolute WORST thing happened.
Someone forwarded me an inspirational GIF. I rolled my eyes even as I clicked on it. It read, “Don’t Cancel the Year that Woke You Up.” That stopped me dead in my proverbial tracks.
I started thinking about the last 12 months not as torture exacted upon us by mythical deities, but rather as a diagram on which I plotted moments of growth. Then I realized those moments, when added together, turned into some real self-awareness which only happened because of the dumpster fire of 2020.
What 2020 taught me
Here are a few specific areas where I was schooled:
I learned from every rejected resume and ‘botched’ interview–I was that much closer to finding the right position. And I eventually did. (Thanks Kym! You made the right choice!)
I learned that with work, vulnerability, and a willingness to admit when I royally screwed up, that I could repair damaged relationships.
I had to step up to the plate and be the caretaker and support system for a sick loved one. When my emotions were raw and my energy was depleted, I dug deep and found the strength to carry on. I didn’t know I could do that.
I came into new self-awareness through the horrible deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. My eyes were opened to the systemic racism and social injustice in our country, and I finally was able to see my white privilege. Their deaths were senseless, but they were not futile.
I learned it’s possible to actually talk with people on all sides of the political spectrum. I found that most people just want to be heard. That means I have to shut up.
More than anything else, I got reacquainted with my inner grit.
It wasn’t because I wanted to. I didn’t ask for the cornucopia of Covid-19 trials–none of us did. But I got through it thus far.
- I needed to run out of toilet paper in March, to be who I am in December.
- I needed to take some professional risks to grow my portfolio and broaden my experience.
- I needed the pressure and anxiety of the unknown to learn mindfulness and stay in the moment.
Take another look
So, I’m choosing from here on out to reframe how I look at 2020. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to write a pop ballad about it. I can’t have my reputation tarnished with anything too warm and fuzzy, but I can see the good that was born from the pain and heartache.
I still have to buy a 2020 ornament for the LeMaster household. Jury’s out on what kind I’ll get, but maybe I’ll draw a smiley face on the back.
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What about you? How has 2020 changed you? Tell us in the comments!