Making the Best of 2021
2020, a year to forget.
…only to be resurrected once again for Barack Obama’s 79th memoir.
Yeah, yeah, I know. You were most assuredly salivating just waiting for my articles to
return, like a damsel in distress to a prince. Semester break was extended, and as a result, we’ve
had ample family time; perhaps more than we wished for.
And it all started with Turkey Thursday.
I’ll concede that it’s difficult to remember what took place two months ago, let alone two
seconds ago, but for the majority of the student populace, Thanksgiving was the Battle of
Lexington and Concord or the Invasion of Poland: winter break’s catalyst.
Thanksgiving was like working overtime. Or taking a hammer to an hourglass. For
example, let’s examine the much-asked expired salad dressing question. Me: “Is this still good?
It says March 1987.” Parents: “Oh yeah, of course it’s still good. Dressing can’t go bad.”
What’s more, just for the hell of it, I briefly considered growing a Chester Alan Arthur
during this limbo state (in which family was my only audience), but alas, I thought otherwise;
mutton chops aren’t typically thought of to the opposite sex as alluring.
Then we have Christmas. The fact that Hallmark Christmas movies have amassed such a
cult following defies belief. The same ilk who watch these pieces of manure chock-full of
banality are the same ones who keep HGTV on during the day as “background noise.” Seriously,
the people running the show at Hallmark must’ve worked with George Lucas on Attack of the
Clones or something. You know, the man behind the line, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and
rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth.”
Want my opinion? Don’t ask George Lucas for relationship advice.
Then again, trashing aside, somehow Hallmark movies are funnier than Jimmy Kimmel.
And while most of the family has settled in for the sequel to “Fir Crazy,” men are out
shopping on Christmas Eve, scurrying around aimlessly like they’re in Jingle All The Way. Every
year, without fail, dads alike wait until the very last second to snag some Christmas fuzzy socks
on clearance. Socks are a safe bet, though; going into Kohl’s is like entering Area 51. The place
is so foreign to a dad— what’s the difference between a cardigan and kimono again?
When the promised day finally dawns, however, the bulk of the gifts come in small,
unassuming envelopes. What was once an Underwear Christmas has now been modified into a
Gift Card Christmas. They say that humans spend half their lives asleep; for me, the other half is
spent attempting in vain to peel those infernal glue strips off the back of the gift cards. And as for
the non-gift-card stuff I receive, ninety-nine percent is clothes. Clothes I’ll most likely have to
return, at that. In truth, I go through returns faster than I do toilet paper, or faster than Trump did
White House officials. Every time I suggested we exchange a sweatshirt, my mom looked at me
with a murderous gleam in her eyes, as if I had just farted during a funeral. Then again, when
given some perspective, at least I didn’t end up with a lump of coal. Rumor has it that Santa saw
the count on the naughty list and decided that a good LOA and bottle of Samuel Adams would be
just what the doctor ordered. After all, Hollywood was doing the blacklisting for him.
On New Year’s Eve, it was easy to look off the perch and recount all woes of the human
race. After all, we spent half the year like Cameron from Ferris Bueller, bedridden, barely able
to lift a limb as a consequence of sheer mental and physical exhaustion. 2020 was the inverse of
Murphy’s Law: “Everything that can’t go wrong, still will go wrong.” We were Clark Griswold
many times throughout the year: “Worse? How could it possibly get worse? Take a look around
you Ellen! We’re at the threshold of Hell!” While we’re on a roll with the allusions, I’ll note that
John Denver once sang, “Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.” 2020 was a boulder.
A Sisyphus boulder, at that. Rolled up the mountain only for it to roll back down again, crushing
the spirits of any remaining soul in its path. Yes, some say this year was like a movie; I’d concur.
2020 made The Room look like Citizen Kane. In fact, Gene Siskel probably would’ve crapped
himself if he saw the matinee.
To buttress my allusions, as a much-esteemed journalist, I managed to get a hold of a
middle-aged woman from 1347. She took one look at a series of clips from 2020 I had compiled
for her and said, “And I thought our life was bad.” Not to worry, the amount of strain she had to
endure to time-travel seven-hundred-odd years forward was not overlooked; I compensated her
for her services. Because she so generously agreed to embark on the journey for a mere
fifteen-minute interview with a pseudo-columnist, I granted her the right to vote in the 2020
To labor the point, this year had more disappointments than Joe Biden had gaffes. Yet,
amongst the myriad of disappointments, two positives arose: the vaccine, and the McRib’s
resurrection. I recently read an article that said that scientists predict the world population will
swell to nine billion by the end of the 21st century, then steadily decline. But, to that downturn,
McDonald’s said, “Why wait?”
When the New Year’s ball finally dropped, I’m sure a great many folk looked like Andy
Dufresne at the end of The Shawshank Redemption, down on their knees, hands outstretched in
rejoice. Exiting 2020 was like being released from the DMV office after waiting in line for five
hours. It was an infinite United Airlines flight, minus the plane peanuts.
The transition into 2021 was supposed to be a ray of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel,
as if everything would magically improve on the side, as if the new year was going to bring an
end to the malaise, as if this were The Wizard of Oz and we were all Dorothy, leaving behind the
gray, bleak world of Kansas for a blissful, Valhalla-world smelling of opportunity and new
To that, as the devil’s advocate, I say, pain is a universal constant. Nothing in life is a
get-rich-quick scheme. But… we can make it tolerable with the cards we have.