We just found out about an hour ago that our New Year’s plans are cancelled. This is on account of six new covid cases in our state (after a 60 day streak of zero cases), which has meant restrictions on the size of gatherings. It seems an apt reminder of the year of we’ve had, where plans are tenuous at best and we’ve all become expert at rolling with the punches.
I spent some time this morning looking back on my photos of 2020. 6 months of lockdowns, restrictions on travel, and closed borders meant I wasn’t expecting to find many moments of celebration, connection and joy. How wrong I was. My camera roll is filled with memories, smiles, laughter, reminders that though this year has been so terrible in so many ways, it has also been filled with so many things to be thankful for.
In January, a holiday at the sea. I am so grateful we had this time together, enjoying long summer days when Covid was just a whisper of things happening in China.
The school year started as normal, those first-day-of-school photos taken the same place we take them every year, rushed because we had to catch the train to work. She doesn’t fit into this dress anymore, and in one short year that little girl face has disappeared. Commuting to work is a distant memory.
In February, we had our first trial run working from home. We hung out with friends, had family dates in the botanical gardens and soaked up the last of the summer sun.
By March, I was working from home permanently. I forget when the kids started homeschooling. I remember how tough it was in the beginning, how isolating working from home felt. The days started getting shorter, and the world around us was changing faster than we could keep up with. The pace of our lives changes completely. We reclaimed our mornings. Coffee in bed, reading, Immy and Jemima curled up or stretched out and no rush to get out the door. I started to notice these small changes, how the quality of our mornings and evenings improved, how much more time we had in a day for connection, and fun.
We were lucky enough to have a respite from lockdowns somewhere in the middle of the year. We crammed in as many small adventures as we could, day trips and short weekends away and celebrating anything outside the walls of our home.
Immy carved a Halloween pumpkin. We couldn’t go trick or treating, but this tiny pumpkin made me so happy.
We had another three month lockdown. I read a lot. I joined online communities, and met new people. I exercised and ate better. I saved more money. I baked sourdough bread, and joined an online brush lettering class. Once Immy was back at school, I picked her up every day at 3:30. No more before school care, or after school care. I could put the washing on, dial into a meeting, type up the minutes, hang the washing out to dry and make a coffee. At lunchtime I could get into bed with a book, and read.
So we lived our quiet, slow days. Eventually we were down to ten cases per day, then five then zero. We were reunited with friends. Eating out in a restaurant felt like a novelty again. Immy crammed in playdates and sleepovers, overjoyed to be with her friends again.
The BFG and I had a weekend away, in a tiny cabin completely off the grid.
I took Immy and Eva to Hanging Rock for the day. We ate cranberries and white chocolate, and the girls shrieked and giggled as they explored mountain cracks and lookouts.
Our year ended, as it always does, with celebration. Immy turned eleven, and we had a small party for her at home. A handful of girls, a trip to Aqualink, cake and snacks.
And just like that it was Christmas. We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ by the light of the tree, opened one gift each on Christmas Eve. This year I opted for a simple, neutral table, nothing fussy or overdone. Santa ate his cookies, drank most of his milk and left some gifts under our tree.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a unique and challenging year. I miss my family, and my friends. I miss the luxury of booking a plane ticket, and making plans. It is hard not knowing when I will see the people I love again. But I am thankful for so many things too.
I am hoping that 2021 will be a year of less, and more. Less stuff. Less anxiety. Less striving.
And more. More community and connection. More time spent doing the things I love, with the people I love. More simple pleasures like slow mornings, and park sunsets. I’d like to study philosophy. I’d like to volunteer. I’d like to run 15km, and learn a new skill and spend a sunny holiday in South Africa. In a year from now, I’d like to look back on this time in a world where a vaccine is available, people are safe, heartache is eased and families are reunited.
Here’s to 2021. A year of hope.