So ends 2020, hailed by some as the worst year ever. I propose the Puddleglum point of view. Human- nature and this fallen world being what they are, I don’t expect too much. But I also realise that things could also be plenty worse, and that we are continually being given grace and other good things by the Lion (of Judah). It’s in this context that I mean to review the old year.
I came to dread reactions to Covid-19 more than the disease itself. I hated the way tensions rose whenever people came together, hated the way I felt so inhuman with my mask on—unable to smile in greeting, hated the way some were forced to close shop, and hated the way the exhausted topic was always brought up (as I’m doing now). That, paired with that one season of smog-choked skies, gave the year apocalyptic overtones. And yet…I was fortunate to be among those who still had work. My job as a fruit farmer was hardly changed, since sanitation is already a high priority, and farmers must keep calm and carry on so long as there are people to be fed. I noticed our perennial customers seemed eased by the traditional stopping by for berries, as if it were any other year.
2020 marks the first time I’ve ever been without a dog. I had already experienced the death of the dog I grew up alongside with, but losing Old Angus wasn’t as hard since by that time I already had Misty to keep me company. When she died this summer, it took a while for the fact to sink in: I was now dogless. For weeks I was haunted by her little grey ghost, pausing when I thought I heard her collar, catching myself about to ask ‘where’s Misty?’ 2020 also marks the first time in about a decade that I did not attend the local homeschoolers theatre production, as there was no production to see. A great shame, since it would have been Newsies, and I’ve been wanting to see them do that one for ages. And yet… the old fence was renewed, and again filled with chickens. After a while, fresh eggs were again filling the fridge. Probably won’t get birds from the same place again, since we ended up with half roosters—but they made a descent soup, at least. As for the arts, some of the kids working for us were theatre kids. They made sure I still had my annual musical by giving me a (condensed) rehearsal of Hamilton, a play I had not seen until then.
My muse apparently was doing social distancing this year. The writing records are dismally small (only a dribbling bit in March), and other projects were half-hearted and left unfinished. But hardest of all was when the church doors closed. I realise that every believer is bound together no matter what happens, but I missed being able to gather in person, to speak face-to-face. And yet… I was able to turn my attention to other people’s stories. Aside from continuing the Creative Writing tutoring, my main project was an illustration commission—a project that was mostly finished last year but finally came through in 2020. This Christmas I received the best bonus payment when I was sent a video clip of some tots enjoying the book. But I think the reason I most neglected stories of fiction was because I was more interested in stories of faith. I continued to be fascinated and edified by church history, and the writings of those before me. In following this family tree, I could see the refinement and importance of doctrines and creeds, and so I was led to investigate theology, and other ologies attached. Theology, I’ve heard it said, leads to doxology. I can confirm this!
At the end of each year, I find myself sorry to see it go—even though I know the next day will be much the same as the last. I’ll miss 2020 as well. Not all of it—but much of it.