We all know 2020 sucked. Everything that could go wrong pretty much did: global pandemic, racial turmoil, too many hurricanes but not enough toilet paper, unemployment, virtually everything gone virtual, a stressful election, social distancing and distant socializing… Even the holidays this year are shaping up to be about as festive as a swab up the nose. With most events cancelled and the usual holiday gatherings still risky, bah humbug seems to be the latest highly contagious bug that everyone's catching this season.
So, we asked our writers to find the silver linings in this overall abysmal period. The bright sides. The blue sky among the clouds. And even though the lemons that 2020 handed us make pretty lousy lemonade, we're going to spike ours with vodka and toast to the end of this horrible year.
Despite everything, name something good about 2020:
One of the best things about 2020 was the "crossing things off your bucket list" aspect of quarantine. Having extra downtime allowed many people to finally get those procrastinated projects done, such as planting an herb garden, cooking vegan chili, or adopting a pet chihuahua. And yet, for those of us who didn't read Gone With the Wind three times, memorize the dictionary, or learn Chinese, the pressure to accomplish impressive tasks also caused some amount of anxiety. Personally, I feel unworthy, since I didn't bake a soufflé, alphabetize my spice cupboard, or take up basket-weaving, but I did paint my steps in rainbow colors, hone my online shopping skills, and lose about 10 pounds. So I still consider it a win. -Kathy Bradshaw
The brilliance and resilience of local musicians, artists, and event producers have offered a life to so many trapped at home with no other connection to live music within a healthy vicinity. Their use of livestreams in particular meant that New Orleans's live music still reached the ears of not only long-time fans quarantined at home in nearby neighborhoods, but also fans new and old living around the world. Making the most of an inarguably challenging set of circumstances, New Orleans musicians transformed the pandemic into an opportunity to elevate the music and voices of New Orleans to a new tech-savvy level and global audience. And we are grateful. -Carolyn Heneghan
2020's undeniable silver lining? Working from home. First, count the hundreds of dollars saved each month on gas and overpriced dining away from home. Next are the hours of transit time taken back each week—time, life's unrenewable resource. You can now redirect these redeemed benefits into hobbies, evenings with family and friends, whatever—any of the things you work to be able to do in the first place. Once the COVID-19 dust clears, I doubt many white-collar workers will care to return to their old normal, nor will their employers, who realize the cost-cutting benefits of no longer having to board staff every day. -Greg Roques
2020 has brought an awareness to the human race of what is truly important and has made us all question the difference between want and need by highlighting the other essentials that have been deemed as "luxuries." Things that make life worth living—art, music, celebration—have proven just as crucial for survival. People realize that if we do not have outlets to share in the human experience, we merely exist. Silence becomes palpable. Thank you, 2020, for reminding us that the reasons why we get up in the morning span further than filling our bellies or clothing our backs. -Ilyssa Galloway
If there's a light to be seen at the end of this 2020 tunnel, it's the realization dawning on many of us that things aren't "hunky dory." We all have a lot of work to do to get better and to be better—as individuals, as members of our community, and as participants in a global society. I know this illumination has occurred in the past, but it seems we'd forgotten, or perhaps our eyes weren't all the way open. As we near the unfolding of a new year, I'm clinging to that miniscule ray of hope that we can all move forward again, together. -Kim Ranjbar
I suppose that in a year that gave me unemployment, deaths in my extended family, tensions with my immediate family, a failed romantic relationship, and almost constant amounts of stress from isolation and political BS, I guess the closest thing to a silver lining I've had in the scourge of 2020 is a renewed sense of purpose: a need to better my health, to make myself happy instead of others doing it for me, to be patient with others because we're all in the same sinking ship, and to work harder to preserve my family's and friend's love and adequately return that same love back to them. -Burke Bischoff
2020? Hmm… What can I say? We've had our ups and downs this year. But with all of the negatives, there's one excellent skill that I've gained, and that's the ability to hold in my sneezes. For most of my life, I've suffered with what the older folks call "hay fever," which has contributed to my constant sneezing. For years, I have sneezed openly and freely (of course, while covering my mouth), while assuming that there was no cure for this affliction and no possible way to stop my sneezes. One thing my dear friend COVID has shown me is that sneezes can definitely be held in, especially when concerned onlookers are around. Since I've mastered the skill of sneeze-holding, my life has been forever changed.
For me, the silver lining of 2020 was spending six months at home with my family and friends from high school. As someone who adored high school (unpopular opinion, I know), I've always been concerned about which friends I would overlap with during breaks and which friends I would have to wait until summer vacation to see. Although the circumstances were dire, it was comforting to have everyone in one place again. Since graduation, my friends have spread out across the country. I am thankful that quarantine brought us back together and for the time we had to rekindle. -Camryn Cohen
While many have felt isolated, bored, and stressed during this pandemic, I have been enjoying the freedom it gave me. Thanks to the earlier lockdown, when most employment was unavailable (and still is, in many sectors), I was given permission not to search for a job, find and train for a job, and punch some damn time clock. I was given a taste of the dreaded word retirement—a concept that I equated with being old or, worse, having failed (our beloved business closed prior to COVID due to financial failure). Surprise! I have never felt so engaged and free. Now, I need a job to support this freedom. -Debbie Lindsey
As this year unfolded, buffeting me with confusion, befuddlement, and anguish, I found calm in caring. Small things: cleaning storm drains, picking up groceries and prescriptions for a neighbor, taking stuff to storage for one person, being a ride to and from the doctor for another, providing an extension cord for someone's refrigerator when the power went off, donating to charities, working the food-bank line, buying gift certificates from a local small business and giving them away. It's the little things that enable me to believe that I did make a difference in someone's life by being a giver. -Phil LaMancusa
2020 Hindsight : The [Thumbs] Ups and Downs of 2020
We all know the old adage "Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it!" Well, like it or not, the past year is full of answered prayers—and the pluses and minuses that come along with each of them.
"I wish I could work from home."
- Who knew we'd work more hours than at work?
+ Zoom meetings in slippers and the commute don't suck.
"I wish I had more time off from work."
- Some people are finding themselves too much out of work.
+ It allowed us to reevaluate our careers.
"I wish I had time to myself."
- Extroverts have been in Dante's Seventh Circle of Hell.
+ Introverts have been in seventh heaven. Either way, their video posts are amusing.
"I wish the kids were home more."
- Realizing kids are actually smarter than we are—new math is now old math? How does math change?
+ Parents appreciate that teachers aren't paid nearly enough.
"I wish I could somehow connect with my kids."
- Social media overkill and Disney movies.
+ 80s-music dance parties and Disney movies.
"I wish I could decide to stay together or split up."
- / + Either way, the answer became very clear these past few months.
"I wish I didn't have to go to family events/holidays."
- What's Christmas without Uncle George's homemade eggnog?
+ Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
"I wish COVID were over."
- Return to monotonous routines.
+ Seeing live music, attending games, and having Mardi Gras again!
"I hate 2020. I'm ready for the New Year!"
- Be careful what you wish for. Remember when we said that about 2019?
+ Statistically speaking, 2021 has got to be better than this. Doesn't it?
[Lead Image: ViDi Studio/AdobeStock]