2020 year in review

The Monumental Year 2020 in Review

2020 will probably be the year that everyone talks about for years to come. Most notably, we are obviously dealing with a huge pandemic. On top of that, there were talks of murder hornets, wildfires, protests, political insanity, the deaths of several legends, and so much more. People seemed to generally hate the entire year. Please don’t ‘X’ off of my post when I tell you that I had a really phenomenal year.

I talked about my seven silver linings earlier on. For years, I’ve said that life is what you make of it and everything is a lesson you’re supposed to figure out for the good. That sounds crazy but the approach really hasn’t failed me yet. We were handed illness, lockdowns, fear, hatred, just so many ugly things. What I pulled out of that hot mess for our household was truly beautiful.

 

Life at Home

Being stuck at home, for me, meant taking a long, hard look at my own home in a million different ways. Not my physical home, although that too, but the people in it and how I could interact with them. I didn’t want everyone to feel like they were bored or missing out, so I kept re-inventing the wheel. We were always board gamers but we stepped it up with new games and played more frequently. Watching movies together is an ancient practice so we made made movie theaters! Creativity flowed from everywhere and everyone. The kids came up with new activities and I created a few games of my own.

That’s not to say that you needed to change things in order to make life interesting. It was certainly fun to make old things new¬†but this year was also a time for realizing all of the things that you’ve been taking for granted or didn’t even realize you could do.

 

Connecting from Afar

I’ve been living social distancing from most of my loved ones since September of 2019 because I moved over 700 miles away from them all! Until the pandemic, I didn’t realize how many things existed to help me stay connected with them. Video chatting is just the tip of the iceberg and there are so many avenues for it. On Christmas Eve, we video chatted with different family members via Zoom, Skype, and Facebook. My four year old niece even calls my youngest daughter on Facebook so that they can play with the filters together.

Before all of this, we were playing games with friends on Board Game Arena and Roll20. Discord helped to keep us connected during games. Then, we added movies to it. Discord allows you to stream your screen, which means that people can watch games or movies together. We now regularly watch movies and talk through them a la Mystery Science Theater 3000.

birthday

For my birthday, I did visit my loved ones in New Jersey and they had a drive-by birthday celebration for me, which was such a heartwarming moment for me. I have two high-risk besties in New Jersey so it was important that they not have any physical contact with me. It was painful not to be able to hug them as Jon-Paul gives the best hugs in the world, but I was so happy just to get to see them both!

I was also blessed to be able to participate in a toy conference that I would not have been able to make it to in person. New York City would not have been in the cards for a visit this year but because large gatherings were off-limits, Toy Insider held their holiday toy conference online and I can honestly say that it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. For someone with social anxiety, this “from home” option for things really did help to make it enjoyable rather than stressful. I was able to see demonstrations and meet all kinds of great people at this virtual conference! I have a feeling that many of us with social anxiety appreciated a lot of these online options!

 

New Hobbies

I know it’s not just our family who introduced new hobbies into our lives because statistics have shown the increase in so many areas! For instance, kayaks were flying off of the shelves this summer. An outdoor activity that allowed for social distancing was perfect for a year like this. I can’t say that we did this because of COVID since it was our first summer in Tennessee and it’s a common hobby here, but it was definitely an awesome new hobby! A lot of people also flocked to hiking which is another hobby that’s great for your health and enjoyment!

kayaking

Geocaching is like real life treasure hunting and we think it’s a fantastic hobby for families to embark upon together. We are still very new to this one but looking forward to delving deeper. We just bought some of our own geocaching items to hide for other people! I’m still hoping to do a full post on this one to help others understand exactly what it is and maybe encourage some of you to come out and join!

I also took my first ever photography lessons, thanks to Art Inspired Images! For me, I feel like that is just an extension of blogging that needed to be explored but it’s also such an enjoyable hobby. It was incredible to be able to take stunning photos at a sunflower farm and feel like, “OMG, did I take these?!”

 

2020 photography

Is homesteading a hobby? I feel like that depends where you are in your homesteading journey but for us, I’m going to say yes at least for now. We’ve visited a couple of local farms and learned a lot about how one becomes self-sustaining. We got chickens this year and they’re excellent layers. My husband is at farm right this minute learning how to “process” chickens, as he plans to do meat birds next year. We got pigs although they are pets who mow our lawn, not producers of anything. The next step on our journey will be gardening! We hope to grow as much as possible with our small amount of land. Someday in the distant future, we hope to have a full homestead or even farm, and sustain ourselves. Retirement goals, I think!

2020 homestead

 

The Holidays

The idea of spending holidays without family was depressing, I’ll admit. This was our first year doing a small Friendsgiving instead, which was bittersweet because I have spent most Thanksgivings with my mom for many years. Still, it was wonderful to be with a couple of very close friends and enjoy ourselves.

I expected Christmas to be the hardest. It’s my favorite holiday and we always see various family members. It’s such a magical time of year!

But…it was even more magical for us this year! Every year, I say that Christmas was too busy and I feel like it flew by. I’m left with a bucket list of things that I wish I’d done with the kids but just couldn’t find the time between cleaning, hosting, and working. Staying at home helped me get much more organized for work so things were all prepared and ready.

I don’t know if every person has a “my clean” and “hosting clean” level but I know that I do. “My clean” means that I don’t mind if the corner of the room has a box of craft stuff in case I have free time to do them. “Hosting clean” means that I had better find somewhere to put that box because it certainly can’t be out in the open. Since I didn’t have to host clean, things were easier and less stressful. I still had to insist the kids get the playroom clean, but I feel like I didn’t have to become a crazy banshee for it.

2020 video

Hosting this year consisted of putting video chats on a schedule. We popped on to decorate cookies with my dad’s kids, all the while my stepmom and I finishing our Christmas Eve cooking. Then, just as easily, we closed the laptop and went on with our own events. We opened gifts with grandparents on video and then we even had time leftover to open our own Polyanna gifts for each other. It was the most laid back and perfect Christmas that we have ever had.

And that bucket list for the kids? Check, check, and check! We:

  • Painted a wooden Christmas train that’s been sitting in the closet for three years
  • Built three gingerbread houses and used extra fluff too, like mini marshmallows and snowy sprinkles
  • Opened a bunch of awesome advent calendars
  • Had oodles of board game nights
  • Made and decorated our own sugar cookies
  • Fingerpainted lights on a canvas
  • Saw Christmas in a Cave
  • Watched every Christmas movie in existence
  • Painted Christmas cookies
  • Rode on a sleigh pulled by mules
  • Saw a beautiful light show
  • Visited our community’s special Christmas display for children
  • Made Elf on the Shelf pancakes and even learned to cook on our wood stove!
  • Had a white Christmas, which we can’t control but was absolutely on my wish list!

2020 christmas

2020 was a lot of things but for me, it was an introverted year full of forced perspective. You had to look within yourself, your circle, your household, your community, to see what was right and worth appreciation. I mourn for the lives and livelihoods lost but I am also grateful for the butterflies that have emerged from this cocoon of crazy that was 2020. May 2021 hold better things for us all but even if it doesn’t, I pray that we will make it be better.

1 thought on “The Monumental Year 2020 in Review

  1. This article is so relatable. It’s great to know there are others having similar experiences. I love the pictures of water. So beautiful.

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