Before we get too far into 2021, I want to look back on 2020, specifically the COVID time, March to December. I do not want to forget this time. This will be my month-by-month chronology.
March 2020 started out as any March; windy, cool, and some days sunny. Mike and I went to Georgia to celebrate with our granddaughter, Mary Grace, for her 15th birthday on March 12. The next week, with the advent of the pandemic and restrictions caused because of it, our world changed. From March 23 to April 22, I cooked with abandon. Most of my days and evenings were spent nesting, trying new recipes from cookbooks I rarely used as well as cooking recipes from old favorite cookbooks. Mike and I ate well, and I filled the freezer with meals for later. There was no eating out, since most restaurants were closed for eating in. I have never enjoyed take-out, so even when some restaurants opened for take-out, I chose to cook and eat in. My outings were mainly to the grocery stores. I maintained my daily walk routine, glad to be outdoors and away from a mask.
April came and I still cooked. Mike and I started a ritual of going outside for an hour each afternoon, both to get some sun and to break the monotony of being indoors. After that I would usually take my walk, then have a cappuccino. April was the first month that I missed seeing our grandchildren (credit to COVID) in fifteen years. Mike and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary at home with a delicious take-out meal from our favorite restaurant, Margaux’s, compliments of our special family friend, MoMo. Later that evening our family’s world was changed forever with the news of the death of our son-in-love, Stephen’s, 41-year-old brother, Robby. Our anniversary will never be the same; it will always be shared with Robby’s passing. Hold tight to your loved ones, for we never know when we are having our last time with them.
May began with our governor putting NC into Phase One of a closing/reopening plan. Restaurants remained closed other than for takeout, and bars, salons, and gyms also remained closed. Many people isolated themselves from anyone outside of their bubble, including family, and we did also, until late May. We saw our daughter and her family who live in Raleigh periodically, careful about our exposure to or from our grandson who was in daycare. Our daughter and granddaughters came up from Georgia in late May. We remained safe from all of these visits, thankfully. My dear hairstylist, Anne, came from Durham and set up shop in our home, and gave a haircut to our granddaughter, Mary Grace, and cuts and color for MoMo and me. May 30th Mike and I checked into a condo in Hilton Head ahead of other family members for our family’s yearly vacation. The next morning, we discovered that someone had broken into our van during the night and stolen some valuables that should not have been left in the vehicle.
While our vehicle break-in was not a fun way to begin our weeks’ vacation, we managed to enjoy our time away, and all stayed COVID free. We were so glad to begin to resume some of a normal lifestyle in June. We began to eat in restaurants as those opened up, yet not at our normal level pre-COVID. We travelled to Georgia the last weekend in June to celebrate with our youngest granddaughter, Virginia, on her 8th birthday.
July began with our daughter Tara’s family from Georgia in Raleigh for the 4th of July holiday. We felt very fortunate to be able to be together, while remaining safe from COVID. So many people for various reasons were separated from their loved ones for months, and we (obviously) were not.
August found us travelling to Alabama for a very sad gathering, the funeral of a good friend, Jim Townsend, who passed away on August 22nd at 48 years of age after a long and brave battle with cancer. My wonderful friend for fifty-three years, who lost her husband eight years ago and now lost her oldest child, remained steadfast in her faith. I remain in awe of her grace.
September began with granddaughter Mary Grace coming to Raleigh for a visit for the Labor Day holiday. Mid-month Mike and I went to Key West for our annual vacation and were pleased to find social distancing and masks in full force. We ended the month with a visit to Virginia to celebrate with my uncle for his 90th birthday. Again, although we definitely pushed the envelope with all of our travelling, all of our family remained COVID free, thankfully. Most of our travelling was by car, and when the family was together, we were usually only with those we considered in our bubble.
October was filled with the upcoming U.S. presidential election discussion, disagreement and widening division. Given the increased vitriol, many people just wanted it to be over. The middle of the month we went to Lake Gaston with a group of friends who normally get together in July, which COVID preempted this summer. It rained all weekend, which did not dispel our enjoyment of being together. Mike and I went to Blowing Rock, NC for a few days at the end of the month, arriving home on Halloween to see our grandson, Drew, dressed out.
The outcome of the November 3rd presidential election is still being debated by some, but Joe Biden will be installed as President on January 20, 2021. There is already discussion of Donald Trump running for President in 2024. Thanksgiving 2020 was a quieter event than usual for our family. Usually more than sixty people gather in Raleigh for the holiday, but all agreed that the pandemic precluded that this year. A small group of us gathered for Thanksgiving in Georgia.
December 2020 brought family together once again for Christmas. Although experts warned against families gathering, our family came together in Raleigh. We were not unconcerned about the risk in doing so yet chose to be together as safely as we could. While the number of people diagnosed with and many dying from COVID or its complications continued to climb, we stayed safe, and are so grateful for that. If this year has taught us anything, it is that life is fragile, and we should not take it for granted.
Many people are touting 2021, glad to leave 2020 behind, yet not much has changed. While there are two vaccines approved for use in the U.S., vaccines will not be available for widespread use until mid-year. Many parts of our economy are not yet recovering, and some never will. Many people are struggling financially, and in other ways as well. Weight gain and alcohol sales have increased. Stress is at an all time high.
What will 2021 bring us? Will we be able to leave the pandemic behind, strengthened by the lessons it taught us? Or will we continue to struggle with the unknown, not knowing when things will return to (what many believe will be a new) normal?
The answer will come. But when?