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A GIANT Thank You to 2020…and…What Do You Resolve in 2021?

I get it – we have to measure history in some fashion and since October 1582, most of us have used the Gregorian calendar, first formalized by Pope Gregory XIII, as the key instrument to identify dates. The Gregorian calendar is critically based around Easter, when our Savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead to forgive and save us all. However, in reality these dates are just numbers on a calendar and even though these numbers are in fact…literally ...historically significant, life goes on before and after these dates and significant events will continue to occur regardless of a date on the calendar.

I am reminded of Y2K. Most of us remember the serious efforts that went into the beginning of a new century with fear that our computers and other critical infrastructure monitoring and controlling devices would not be able to handle the change in date from a 1999 to a 2000, as if changing that first number, a one into a two, would cause catastrophic issues. While there were a few programming issues that needed to be addressed, Y2K was much ado about nothing. A date on the calendar does not magically start or stop any normal occurrence in our lives.

For reasons like Y2K, I “RESOLVE” to not let dates rule my life.

However, I’m going to give into the hype about dates, and tell you why this December 31st, at 11:59 pm will mark the end to a very special year. I know, it wouldn’t be a shock, to many of you, to say I am a bit different, some might say odd. But I honestly want to thank 2020 for being a great year. I know many of you feel it was a horrible year, and we all can agree it was a historic year, but I challenge you to deny some of the great things that happened. Yes, we were limited in what we could do and where we could go, but as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. If I chose to only see the negatives, I could match many of you with challenges that occurred in my family’s lives. But I still feel the positives far outweighed these challenges.

Here are some great things that happened in 2020:

1. The year wound down with the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem or the Christmas Star. This is an event that occurs only every 800 years, at night, where it is obviously most visible. Most people believe this is THE very celestial occurrence that led the magi (wise men) to the birth of Jesus. My wife and I made special plans to observe and photograph this over a couple of days and I encourage you to look up the many pictures of this historic event on the internet.

2. On Christmas Eve, we received just about a half an inch of snow, which was not forecast, giving us a white Christmas. Where we live historically falls right on the typical freeze line of winter and thus this does not occur very often. For us in central Indiana, we only have a one in seven or 14% chance of seeing a white Christmas.

3. We got to spend more quality time at home with our spouses and families. I have connected more with my wife and family than ever before and for this I am so thankful.

4. I drive one hundred and ten miles, each way (220 miles round trip) to work each day. This requires me to fill my gas tank every two days, at a relatively significant cost to our family. Yes, I chose this work-travel relationship but the pandemic has actually given me a “raise.” By working from home, I don’t spend so much on fuel and thus actually net more of my base pay; please don’t give my employer any ideas😊.

5. In light of the previous bullet point, I am so appreciative to have a job as so many have struggled with employment this year. For those of you truly looking to be gainfully employed, have heart because there are jobs available and good hard-working people will usually end up finding work.

6. We had more time to get outdoors, go fishing, go for walks, and truly appreciate God’s incredible creation. The animals, flowers, and the views of nature remind us how beautiful this world truly is when we have the time to take it in and truly appreciate.

7. A true example of one’s heart and attitude is the 103-year-old grandma that beat COVID-19 and celebrated with a Bud Light. This family has a great matriarch - Way to go Grandma!!!

8. Drive-in movie theaters made a comeback – who would have ever seen this coming.

9. For you gophers out there - We got to watch football greats Tom Brady and Peyton Manning play golf with golf greats Phil Mickleson and Tiger Woods in "The Match" for COVID-19 relief.

10. Restaurants shared their secret recipes so we could make them at home.

11. Wearing sweatpants and tees became acceptable fashion choices all day, every day.

12. Restaurants got awesomely creative to enforce social distancing including pool noodle hats, bumper boats and dapper mannequin guests.

13. People around the country brushed up on their sewing skills, making masks for people who need them most.

14. Americans rushed to adopt and foster pets in need.

15. Sure, we might have gained a little weight, but we rediscovered our love for old hobbies like baking and gardening.

16. We also have time to read again and we're seizing the moment to educate ourselves.

17. Puzzles and board games became cool again and offered a much-needed break from our screens.

18. Distilleries, both small and large, around the country used their resources to produce badly needed hand sanitizer.

19. Major companies such as 3M and Apple pooled resources or shifted production to make millions of masks to help keep people safe.

20. Companies like GE and automakers Ford, GM, and Tesla were able to make ventilators and other medical devices to help with the pandemic.

21. Amazon introduced fun new boxes that can be turned into a cat fort or robot costume.

22. Health care workers and essential workers are also heroes.

23. Bike trails became one of the few places in the country that were open.

24. We came up with creative ways to celebrate big milestones like drive-by birthdays and Zoom parties.

25. Love is still blossoming amid quarantine thanks to drones, digital dinners, and inflatable plastic bubbles.

26. Celebrities surprised graduates at virtual commencement ceremonies.

27. Smaller movies and hidden gems are suddenly at our fingertips (streaming!).

28. Musicians took to social media to give us personal concerts from home.

29. While coronavirus pushed many museums to close, it opened up their collections to audiences virtually.

30. People brought out their Christmas decorations to bring cheer.

31. Weddings still happened over Zoom, and it was beautiful.

32. The key phrase: "It’s OK to not be OK” became a mainstream slogan, primarily due to a trying year for many…but what is key…is that the feeling of not being OK is a common occurrence in life and by remembering this phrase/slogan, it will bring a settling peace and comfort to all, helping us understand that trying to be perfect and never being “NOT OK” is not necessary. Challenges will come and adversity will happen and that’s OK as long as we move on from them

The New York Times recently asked readers about their memories from 2020; here is a selection of some of the more than 1,500 responses:

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

2. 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.

3. 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 endure.

4. I’m working from home! I’m working from home! I’m working from home!

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. One good thing about 2020: We learned what we can do without. What does this statement mean to you? What, if anything, did you come to realize doesn’t matter, or matters less than you used to think, over the past many months?

I’m relatively certain God does not care whether or not we have a White Christmas, but it certainly is pleasing to many of us. I can’t help but think that the Christmas Star and the White Christmas were a small token from God to remind us, as the year was coming to an end, that no matter what the calendar year 2020 brought us, he is still here among us, he still loves us, and he will never leave us.

So, in my odd way, I humbly thank 2020 from being a great year. Our talents and creativity may have never been more apparent, and in use, than in this past year. Our understanding, compassion, caring, and love have been heightened and certainly more prevalent this past year. We are a resilient people, living in a very resilient country and we will always adapt to deliver the best we can, for all of us. The challenges of 2020 seem to be moving behind us and a new year is upon us – will 2021 be a good year, I think so. But let’s remember, first and foremost, that the year and the events that unfold, will be what we make of them. Yes, there will be challenges, there will always be challenges, but I will continue to do my very best to always see the positives. It’s easy to give in, whine and complain, but I choose the high road. I will focus on what’s great and good in our world. One only has to envision the pain and suffering Jesus went through on his way to the cross, to save us all -you and me. If God can send his Son to do this for us, and Jesus can willingly submit himself to such torture, then nothing I encounter can be as bad as that event must have been for God and His Son. So, I embrace the beauty and glory of God’s creation and I “RESOLVE,” AND will strive, every minute to give thanks and appreciate what God has given all of us.

THANK YOU 2020 – Although you are only numbers on a calendar, you’re 366 days gave us many great gifts and memories!!!

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