Opinion | ‘I Learned to Appreciate My Husband,’ and Other Silver Linings From 2020

We asked readers to name one good thing that happened in an otherwise dismal year. Here is a selection from the more than 1,500 responses.

To the Editor:

Despite everything, we did not give up. We found new levels of courage, humility, resilience and resolve. And renewed our understanding of compassion. But that is not all.

Newborns arrived, students graduated. Marriages, birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated. Agreements were signed, careers started. Discoveries were made, solutions were found. People found love (many of us for the umpteenth time since we met), shoulders were leaned on, aid was rendered, lives were saved. Faith was found, memorials were held, kind words spoken. We began to heal. We did not give up.

The United States has weathered every crisis: independence, civil war, foreign wars, surprise attacks, economic setbacks, assassinations, civil and cultural change. We’ve endured by realizing the capacity to do what must be done. I remain optimistic. And retain my belief in a better America tomorrow.

Jeff Horton
Keller, Texas

To the Editor:

Guess it would be: I’m working from home! I’m working from home! I’m working from home!

No hurry-up breakfast force-feeding. No cold car. No lunch packing. Working in sweatpants. Less laundry. Happy pets. Screw the makeup. Bad-hair day is meaningless. No ringing phones and overheard arguments. No weird smells. No Muzak. Office with a window — that actually opens. Free to adjust the thermostat. Break-time walk around the yard instead of a parking lot. Introvert not forced to be around people eight to 10 hours a day.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

Wendy Sieja
Appleton, Wis.

To the Editor:

The one good thing that happened this year is that after 47 years of marriage, I learned to appreciate my husband. My husband is a quiet man, a reader and bird watcher who takes pictures of clouds. Some might think he’s dull because he doesn’t talk much, but listens and smiles. I, on the other hand, have lived a life of overcommitment — book clubs, volunteering, political action, adult classes, social clubs and rescuing animals.

My frenetic life ended in March when I became shut in with my husband. Not dull, but interesting. Not rushed, but calm. I’ve learned to look closely at a brilliant vermilion flycatcher. We’ve marveled at the night sky and named the butterflies on our milkweed. We share books, bake bread and walk our dogs. The clubs, concerts and crowds have disappeared, and I have found serenity and companionship with my loving husband, the perfect man I married long ago when I was too busy to notice.

Cheryl Lockhart
Tucson, Ariz.

To the Editor:

One good thing about 2020 is that pet adoptions are way up. People who are isolating need companionship, so they’re fostering and adopting dogs and cats in record numbers.

Carol Roberts
Brown Deer, Wis.

To the Editor:

Like many others, I was made to work from home. Because of that, I was able to see my 1-year-old son take his first steps. I would have otherwise been at work.

Michael Mikulec
Marina del Rey, Calif.

To the Editor:

While obviously challenging, and even devastating for many, this year of Covid has forced us all to re-evaluate what is important, and even necessary, in our lives. Covid has brought family members back home to share quality time together and reconnect. It has enabled us to spend more time reading books, watching shows and playing games, providing opportunities to learn, contemplate or just slow down. And without busy social calendars we have all been able to focus less on the impressions we want or need to make, and on materiality in our lives.

As life begins to return to some semblance of “normalcy” in 2021 with vaccine availability, we will begin again to enjoy the many aspects of our lives we have missed so much, like travel, eating in restaurants, having friends over for dinner, and going to concerts and movies. But we should also consider what aspects of our Covid lives are worth preserving long after the pandemic has ended.

Josh Mondry
Aspen, Colo.

To the Editor:

Among the very few good things about 2020 have been the extraordinarily selfless work of our health care professionals and the scientific advances leading to the amazingly rapid development of the coronavirus vaccines.

John Little
Worcester, Mass.

To the Editor:

Naming one good thing that happened in 2020 is easy: The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series. I live in New England, but I grew up in Los Angeles and became a Dodgers fan in 1966, Sandy Koufax’s last year as a player. On a cold and dreary day in April 2020, early on in the pandemic, I sought solace and escape by watching the first game of the 1988 World Series between the Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics, the game in which Kirk Gibson hobbled around the bases after pinch-hitting a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

I had to wait 32 years before the 2020 victory. Although I have called New England my home for the past 35 years, like Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers manager in 1988, when you cut me I bleed Dodger Blue.

Randy Rockney
Barrington, R.I.

To the Editor:

One good thing about 2020: We learned what we can do without.

David Barnert
Albany, N.Y.

To the Editor:

I am one of a group of six moms who have been meeting periodically for almost 30 years since our first children were born. In 2019, one of us was diagnosed with lung cancer and could no longer attend our brunches and dinners. Then came 2020, the pandemic, and Zoom. We started meeting every Sunday on Zoom and our dear friend was able to join us almost every time.

She died a couple of weeks ago. Her husband said she had been planning to join the Zoom that day. I am so grateful for the many hours we were able to spend with our cherished friend this year. We had never heard of Zoom before the pandemic. Despite all the misery in the world in 2020, we were given this special gift.

Diane Goldstein Temkin
New York

To the Editor:

At 72, I’ve been thinking about retiring from my stage production/stage managing work. This year has been great practice for retiring.

David Woodberry
East Dummerston, Vt.

To the Editor:

So many books, not enough time, has always been my go-to excuse for not reading more. This year, so many good books and lots of time.

Stephanie Nicholas Acquadro
Westfield, N.J.

To the Editor:

Before the pandemic, I commuted daily to a job 50 miles away, three to four hours round trip. Now, I work from home 90 percent of the time, and I’m loving it. The best part is that I’m able to spend more time with my 13-year-old basset hound, Pearl.

At Pearl’s age, our remaining time together is limited, and I would have hated missing her final years. Now, she’s my favorite co-worker, snoring away on her bed by my desk, and following me around every time I leave my desk. I know that some people will say “she’s just a dog,” but I raised her from 12 weeks old, and I love her like a child. This year of spending entire days with her has truly been a gift, and I am so grateful.

Susan Ronhaar
Concord, Calif.

To the Editor:

One good thing about 2020? Honestly, Taylor Swift’s album “Folklore” from July and her new one, “Evermore,” in December. The music is amazing, and at least she’s doing something productive in quarantine.

Dalia Pustilnik
New York

To the Editor:

What was good about 2020?

Not a thing. Not one damned thing.

John Medinger
Sedona, Ariz.

To the Editor:

For much longer than we initially expected, we all slowed down. We saved time on our commutes, many of us picked up hobbies never thought possible because of the time commitment (hello, sourdough!), we graciously waited as co-workers figured out their microphone issues. Families and partners experienced a new mundane that became the new normal, and young adults across the country found themselves home with Mom and Dad — a gift to at least one of those parties.

Alexandra Davis
Chicago

To the Editor:

The one good thing about 2020 is that friends in Omaha, Chicago and Anchorage can attend the same A.A. meeting in San Francisco that I attend.

Samantha K.
San Francisco

To the Editor:

My 2020 silver lining: video chats. (Really.) My husband and I are lucky to have a global web of friends and family. I am American, he is Australian, we met in the United Kingdom and now live in California. Our loved ones are spread over San Jose, Sydney, Canberra, London, New York, St. Louis and Denver.

The year 2020 has been a seemingly never-ending stream of heartache, but never have I ever felt so connected with friends and family. We started a daily family Zoom call when the first quarantines started in March, and the call is still going strong nine months later. Sometimes people can’t make it, or they drop in for just a quick hello, but it’s a daily reminder that even apart we are connected by our mutual love and care for each other.

Thank you, 2020, for teaching me not to take friendships and family for granted and for showing me that we don’t need to be in the same place to nurture our relationships.

Anne Throdahl
San Jose, Calif.

To the Editor:

After being married for nearly 50 years and held captive at home, we learned how to get on each other’s nerves without getting on each other’s nerves. We can endure anything after 2020.

Susan Tyler
Lyme, Conn.

To the Editor:

The pandemic clipped my dad’s wings.

For the first time in my life my father couldn’t travel internationally for work. Pre-pandemic, he would be away for one or two weeks each month, but the threat of the virus halted international travel, keeping him homebound.

During this strange year, he finally had time to teach me how to ride a bike. He finished reading “The Chronicles of Narnia” to my sister and me. He joined the pandemic obsession of sourdough making — which led to us eating a lot of bread. Every weekend he spends time instructing us in the finer points of the Greek language.

Instead of asking him math questions by text or calling him on the phone while he was in some neighboring country, he’s now beside me with a whiteboard and marker every evening.

Though the pandemic took away too many family members from too many people around the world, it oddly gave me more of my dad.

Olivia Wasmund
Seoul, South Korea
The writer is a seventh grader at Seoul Foreign School.

To the Editor:

The foundational principle of improv is “yes, and” — accepting the reality your scene partner establishes and adding to it, furthering the scene. Performing in improv comedy troupes for most of my life has cemented this concept in my brain.

Yet last March, all my improv-loving brain could think was “no.” No, I can’t work. No, I can’t socialize. No, the world can’t function.

Unlike me, the world accepted this uncertain new reality and said, “Yes, and.” Yes, you can shop and pick up groceries curbside. Yes, you can use the internet and work, worship, be entertained, and reconnect with old friends and relatives. Yes, people will help those in need and create therapeutic drugs and a vaccine.

The tragic realities of 2020 are undeniable. But the world has thought outside the box in astounding ways to navigate this unfamiliar life. The year 2020 epitomizes “yes, and.”

Yes, we did.

And we will.

Laura Lind
Pittsburgh
The writer is a founding member of the Amish Monkeys improvisational comedy troupe.

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