Hey 2020, Here’s What You Did Right

Hey, 2020.

We know. Your complaint box is full. You’ve spent the past ten months as the butt of the entire planet’s jokes. Social media torments you, children mock you, even yule logs have been replaced with dumpster fire videos in a global desire to set you ablaze. Surely a perfectly symmetrical year like you had bigger aspirations than this. And there’s no doubt that all this has affected your self-esteem.

Well, if you need some encouraging words, here’s the truth: While the world is indeed weary from the obvious plethora of negatives this year has brought, there are in fact a lot of good things you’ve given us. Sure, you’re more likely to find stories that highlight your disastrous impact, but we get it — nobody likes a whiner. So here’s an uplifting, gripe-free list of really good things you gave us this year. If we all think hard enough, we can name plenty of positives that came out of 2020. Don’t believe me? Have a read.

Watching Your Kids Grow (Literally)

How many times have you heard parents say, “They grow up too fast” or “I blinked and they’re not babies?” Yes they’re cliches, but to parents like me, they feel very true. Considering the fact that we’ve all been wishing for more quality time with our kids, this year certainly delivered! While it wasn’t always easy, there’s great beauty in the gift of time that this year gave to parents and children. We’ve been able to watch our kids grow, help them learn, and experience everything with them at a much more relaxed pace than typical school mornings allow. (In between occasionally hiding in far-off closets for sanity, but hey, we’re human.) Children have appreciated this togetherness too. While we parents have felt bad for all their missed experiences, most kids (my son included) have cited this special time with us as the best part about 2020. Years from now, they’ll hopefully not remember the headline anxiety or the financial stress, but they will remember the simple pleasures of spending more time together with us.

Greater Appreciation for Relationships

Being forced to distance ourselves from loved ones — especially older loved ones — was hard. But there’s no question that it taught us about the value of those relationships. When we’ve been able to reconnect with friends and family (or when we eventually do so) we appreciate that time and those relationships more than ever. And while Zoom and social media aren’t “as good” as in-person contact, we shouldn’t dismiss the gift of socialization that these modern marvels have offered us. I know I’m not alone in the many friendships and professional contacts I’ve formed or stregthened thanks to apps like Instagram and LinkedIn. This year has given us so many opportunities to appreciate the power of the human connection, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Less Wasted, More Saved

When ransacked supermarket shelves began to resemble something in a sci-fi movie, we all had a choice: throw up our hands or roll up our sleeves. In true survival mode, most of us chose the latter, and in the process — whether we realized it or not — we began to learn some incredible life lessons that may help us live more sensibly in the future. We were forced to forage, stretch recipes with pantry staples, save money for what took precedence, and find some pretty innovative substitutes for toilet paper! Aside from those who lived through the Great Depression, I don’t think there’s many people alive today who understood the importance of these lessons until 2020 gave us a crash course.

Time in the Great Outdoors

You could call 2020 the year al fresco made its comeback! Ever since we first learned that indoor activities were risky in spreading Covid-19, outdoor spaces are the new place to be. While appreciating the great outdoors isn’t new to everyone, 2020 certainly helped more of us discover the sanctity and safety of nature. We took family walks, sought out nature preserves, and relished the comfort of taking a literal breath of fresh air. We’ve done everything we could outdoors this year, and the healing power of nature did not disappoint.

The Rise of Remote Work

Jokes aside about work-from-home challenges, I think we can thank 2020 for putting remote work on the map. As someone who has worked from home for several years now, I’m glad the world is seeing the perks of remote employment. More companies can benefit from a bigger pool of global employees, and families benefit from the work-life balance such positions allow. The rise of remote work helps job growth, cuts down on commuter pollution, and eliminates overhead like rent for businesses that don’t *need* their staff to report in person. Not to mention the “real pants optional” perk of remote employment. Can’t thank you enough for that one, 2020.

Home Release Movies

One of the fun gifts 2020 gave us was the introduction of home-release movies. While I do miss theatres and feel for that industry (remember, we’re focusing on the good here,) it’s been quite a treat to stream new releases right in our own living rooms this year! And in some cases, movie studios weren’t mad about it either. When the Trolls World Tour home release made more money in its first three weeks than the original, theatre-released Trolls made in its first five months, Universal vowed that home releases would be part of the studio’s business model going forward. 2020 has given big families a much more economical way to enjoy new movies, and all of us a new topic for our virtual water cooler discussions.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Whether it was billion dollar movie studios finding ways to promote their new feature or little Johnny’s mom finding a way to celebrate her kid’s birthday, 2020 brought out the creativity and ingenuity in all of us. Weddings still went on thanks to Zoom and if you were craving a Big Mac at 1a.m. it magically appeared on your doorstep, proving that where there’s a will there’s a way. From drive-by birthday cavalcades to all that sourdough, this year inspired us to turn lemons into lemonade…or starter into bread…ah, you get the point.

Appreciation for Everyday Heroes

My Grandfather owned a trucking company, so growing up I was taught how important truck drivers are in making our country run. But if your family didn’t have a thing for truckers like mine did, chances are you didn’t think about this much. Enter 2020. One of the coolest things this year did was raising everyone’s awareness about the hardworking Americans who are true everyday heroes. From doctors and nurses who battle this vicious virus to grocery workers and the delivery people who bring us the food that sustains us, this year brought these front line heroes the appreciation and respect they’ve always deserved. About time.

A Focus on the Feel-Good

If you’re as sick of negative news media as I am, you probably enjoy a heavy dose of good news. And thanks to 2020, that became a thing. From everyday social media accounts sharing feel-good stories to the phenomenon of John Krasinski’s Some Good News YouTube project, this year brought about people’s desire for inspiration, which resulted in more sources for heartwarming stories. Let’s hope this is a trend that sticks.

More Convenience

We pandemic-weary humans have done a heck of a lot of whining this year, but when we’re doing so from the warmth of our car waiting for curbside pickup, you know we’re spoiled. 2020 forced businesses to increase the amount of conveniences offered to us, and let’s be honest, we’re all pretty pampered as a result. If we choose, we don’t have to shop for ourselves anymore, pick up takeout anymore, hell, we don’t even have to leave home if we really don’t want to. And have you “been” to a doctor lately?! For many ailments it’s all telemedicine now, and it’s a game changer. Now if only they can figure out a way to give my kid his flu shot next year through the screen…

Germ-free Innovations

Part of businesses’ reason for increasing conveniences was because this year the world (finally) began paying attention to the presence of germs and the importance of basic, anti-viral hygiene. As a proud longtime germophobe, I snickered when the “wash your hands and cough into your elbow” PSAs came out. (Rookies.) I’ve practiced those habits forever, but I’m well aware that the rest of the world didn’t. Frankly, we have 2020 to thank for this heightened awareness. I’ve heard the relief this gives moms of immunocompromised children, and I think about how crucial our efforts are to so many. I’m thankful that 2020 made the world respond with germ-free innovations. From Disney World removing high-touch practices to fast food restaurants banning self-serve refills, the world is waking up to the gross factor of yesterday’s salad bar era and finally making sanitary options the norm. More hand-washing and Purell stations all over the place? I’m here for it. Contactless payment everywhere? Here for it. People using their elbows to open doors? HERE….FOR….IT! For the sake of everyone’s health (and to prevent more pandemics) I geneuinly hope these vigilant innovations stick around.

World Unity

From earthquakes to hurricanes, whenever catastrophe strikes, the world hears the news regardless of the region that was affected. But never before has catastrophe struck the whole world at the same time in the same way. This global pandemic has lived up to its name — it has affected every inhabited corner of the globe. But in doing so, it has made the world feel a lot smaller. As I connect with new Instafriends from Europe and Australia, I find such strange comfort in knowing we are all in the same boat. We’re no longer not residents of foreign lands with different backgrounds but rather companions in this crazy year with more in common than we ever knew. For better or for worse, 2020 brought about a sense of unity throughout our entire world that is truly a gift. Let’s hope this sense of connection continues into a healthy new year for all.

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