End of year recaps always feel trite, and never more so than as I sit here, three days before what’s poised to be the loneliest Christmas of my lifetime, attempting to strangle some sense of meaning out of it all.
I could lay some classic platitudes on you, about how we made it, we’re stronger than before, evil never wins, yadda yadda. I could lament all the things we lost; loved ones, health, homes, and jobs. I could highlight our community heroes, the true People of the Year who risked death and kept society running this year.
Or I could just say it like it is—this year was fucking excruciating.
So numbed were we to the constant controversies of the Trump administration, we fooled ourselves into thinking it couldn’t possibly get worse. But as my Jewish mother likes to say: it’s always darkest before it’s totally pitch black.
COVID upended the illusion that capitalism could slink on business as usual. Radical individualism coagulated with anti-science conspiracy theories to produce the anti-masker movement, and many, many people died that didn’t have to. Many people lost all hope.
I did, for a while, too.
I struggled this year. I lost some people very close to me. I gave into my worst impulses. I felt utterly alone.
This weekend I couldn’t get out of bed. The shades stayed drawn, I cocooned under blankets, didn’t get dressed, spent too much money to get a chicken biscuit delivered, and couldn’t even muster the energy to find a TV show worth half paying attention to. My family is hundreds of miles away. I live alone. There are no presents under my secular Christmas tree.
Then, something surprising happened.
Coming home from work on Monday, I pulled into my driveway and found a package propped against my door. It was a velvet green Christmas stocking with little gold stars, with a bottle of wine inside. I’ve never had a stocking before. Atop it was a card, handwritten.
“From a grateful Durham community—we see you, we value you, and we love you!!! :)”
Like the Grinch, this little journalist’s heart grew three sizes. I cried, but this time not the sad kind.
Just like a virus, that little germ called hope can spread so quickly once planted. Amazing what a little love can do. And that’s what I’ve missed most this year—feeling loved and part of a community.
I’m ready to crawl out the black hole of 2020. I’m ready to hope again. To love and cry the good kind of tears and fight fearlessly for justice in this place I call home.
I hope you are, too.
The Year in Review
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