It Has Been A Challenge Trying To Make 2021 Seem Uplifting


I have almost completed writing my holiday newsletter, “The Milestone,” eagerly anticipated by friends and relatives around the world who need a good, sturdy liner for their birdcages. I think a few of them read it first.

Anyway, the point is that it’s getting harder and harder to come up with uplifting glimpses into a year where many of the usual fun activities were shut down, and all my photographs are of people in masks. Not that I’m complaining. Those people wearing masks are the reason I’m alive to write a newsletter at all. I’ve already lost one cousin to COVID-19 and another cousin hovered on the brink of death in the hospital for 30 days before being discharged into a rehab facility so she could learn to talk again. Therefore, to all the mask-wearers, thank you!

To those who don’t believe, I envy your ability to live in denial. It has been an awful couple of years for all of us.

If one good thing can be said about this pandemic, it’s that people have gotten tremendously more creative, especially those with young children. While desperately trying to keep the little guys safe, they also want to keep the fun alive and preserve some semblance of a normal childhood for their kids. It’s not easy. Parents are resorting to activities they themselves enjoyed at camp or in science class — arts & crafts, baking, building volcanoes.

And teachers. I can’t even begin to imagine the hoops these caretakers of the young are having to jump through to keep the school board, administrators and parents happy all while cramming reading and writing into the brains of the next generation. Remember that month we had without teachers? When work-at-home parents were also trying to keep their offspring (each in a different grade level) to sit in front of video screens seven hours a day?

That’s where the teachers’ union dropped the ball. They should’ve made their demands right then — double the pay, half the class size, all-expenses-paid midterm vacations, Johnnie Walker Red in the teachers’ lounge. We would’ve agreed to anything.

But now, weary of forever adapting our work lives and endlessly entertaining children, people are demanding to know when the pandemic is going to end. American experts are now being asked to put an end date on the pandemic, even though they have no control over how the rest of the world is faring.

I’ve heard “the end of January.” I’ve heard “mid-March.” I’ve heard “spring.” Then I heard “hopefully, by the end of 2022.” In other words, they don’t know.

And, even when we do “get back to normal,” normal has changed forever. People have moved. Jobs have been eliminated. Kids have been influenced. As for me, I will never again read about the plague and think, “Those stupid ancient peoples. Why didn’t they simply shut everything down and stay away from each other?” Why? Because they couldn’t and they wouldn’t — just like us.