Every New Year morning, I sit on the couch, coffee in hand, watching the Rose Parade, a ritual I have enjoyed for many years. Ever since I was a child, I have always admired the beautifully decorated Rose Parade floats. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to attend the parade with my family. I remember my mom waking me and my sisters at 2 a.m. to make the drive to Pasadena, find a spot along the parade route and wait several hours before seeing the floats pass by; only to be partially blocked by the other spectators in attendance. In the end, it was a long day, but it’s a memory I will cherish forever.
I had a vested interest in the 2020 Rose Parade because in late December of 2019, my lifelong friend, both of our daughters and I, spent an afternoon in Pasadena, with many other volunteers, adding the finishing touches to the Cal Poly Rose Float. That day, we were considered VIP’s, thanks to my niece, who is one of the welders on the team, and the President elect for the 2020 Cal Poly Rose Float. While the job I was given was a small part in the whole process, I was delighted and thankful to be able to contribute.
While I sat there, on the couch, I found myself reflecting on 2020. It started like any other year, only to become one of the worst years in our history, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which created unexpected turmoil in our lives.
However, through it all, I managed to make the most of it, but not without sacrifices. January started off with a birthday celebration for both my mother and father-in-law and we hosted a fun birthday dinner. This was followed by February, which saw nothing new – the calm before the storm. Then, on March 2, I was hit with Influenza B, and less than two weeks later, COVID-19 invaded our country and stay at home orders were instituted in our state, closing our schools, and shutting down virtually everything we knew to be normal.
In the beginning, staying at home was an adjustment to our normal daily lives, with the occasional, masked trip to the grocery store to replenish our supplies.
April brought Easter, May brought Mother’s Day, June brought birthday celebrations for my daughter and husband, plus Father’s Day followed by the Fourth of July. All, unfortunately, celebrated without a family gathering in the confines of our home.
As the lock down continued into summer, I took advantage of the endless amount of time on my hands by challenging myself to try new activities. I started walking and riding my bike daily, I learned how to use Zoom and started playing virtual BINGO with my family.
I cooked two to three meals a day, tried my hand at refinishing indoor and outdoor furniture, started writing this column, binge watched way too many shows, worked in the yard attempting to add some curb appeal to our home, and learned to grow tomatoes from tomato slices, just to name a few. As summer started to wind down, school was just about to start, and this meant that my quarantined life, as I knew it, was about to change. Even though school started on-line, with distance learning, my job required me to be there, in person.
As August came and went, our state started to slowly re-open, but, with the impending holidays fast approaching and people disregarding the guidelines and/or mask order, our state was once again, placed on a partial shutdown, due to increased COVID infection rates and deaths.
Suddenly it was November and the start of the holiday season when I was unexpectedly hospitalized, not with COVID-19 but emergency gallbladder surgery. As I spent Thanksgiving day alone, in the hospital, I realized how much I missed my family. December brought me another birthday, then Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, only to be confined at home, once again. In the past, holidays have seemed like “just another day,” however, this year has made me appreciate the importance of family being together during the holidays.
Even though I have found a silver lining from this pandemic, looking back, there were so many things that I missed, like being able to visit my mom, attending my nephew’s wedding, and hosting family gatherings. I miss going to the fair, attending concerts, going wine tasting, visiting with friends, enjoying meals, indoors, at our favorite restaurants, and taking summer trips. Sadly, I miss the life we have grown accustomed to and realize that it is a precious part of who we are.
2020 conjures up memories of a worldwide pandemic, stay at home orders, masks, and quarantining. Therefore, celebrating the New Year was going to look different than years past but thanks to the internet, my family and I were able to ring in the New Year together, playing virtual games via Zoom.
Once again, on the first morning of the New Year, I found myself on the couch, coffee in hand, tuning in to watch the Rose Parade. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, there was no Rose Parade, it was replaced with the Rose Parade New Year’s Celebration and instead of watching the floats, I watched my niece, who is the President of the Cal Poly Rose Float, make her worldwide debut in a segment discussing the process of planning, creating, and executing the Cal Poly Rose float.
While 2020 was a year that brought an unprecedented pandemic to millions of lives across the world and ultimately, changed our lives, I think everyone can agree when I say, “I am hopeful that 2021 will bring much needed relief and a return to normalcy.” Happily, I say, Goodbye and good riddance to 2020 and I wish you all a wonderful, healthy, NEW year!
“Am’s View” appears on alternate Sundays.