What. A. Year.
As this “who knew an even year could be such an odd year” of 2020 winds to its inevitable close, scooping up more casualties with each passing day, it’s impossible to avoid reflecting on the last 12 months and how they’ve affected us.
Loss is the four-letter word that may best describe 2020 for some — maybe even most — of us: Loss of family, income, gathering opportunities, educational experiences, athletic contests, concerts, graduations, health, theatrical productions, community, travel, dinner dates and above all assurance that we can easily move at will among our fellow humans without fear of infection.
Since 2020 commenced, we have personally realized the earthly loss of my mother, three aunts, my sister-in-law’s mother and a handful of friends.
What remains with us are memories and possessions, some of which seem more precious and others completely irrelevant when considered in light of the gaping holes left by these humans who were close to our hearts.
It’s grown easier to discern what matters and what doesn’t. Certain pieces of furniture, clothing and knick-knacks have quickly found their way to the donation pile, or even the circular file.
Meanwhile, items I never envisioned as legacies have floated to the top of the heap with renewed vigor.
For instance, as we prepared to move, continuing all the while to sort through my late parents’ belongings, a pair of metal TV trays (ring a bell?) that dated to my maternal grandparents’ era (they died in 1968) emerged.
“Get rid of those,” dismissed my daughter, unclear as to their exact purpose.
Slyly I set them aside, conceiving of their possible functionality despite the distinct signs of age they bore and the decline in popularity of Swanson’s TV dinners.
Lo and behold, in our new house they have already been put to use on several occasions as, with reduced ability to dine out and an increased desire to huddle round the screen, we have found they are extremely handy family room accessories.
My grandmother’s black cast-iron kettle, a fixture for decades in my mom’s kitchen and an implement I had thought an unwieldy antique, is now frequently filled as I learn to navigate the magnetic surface and resulting pan requirements of the induction cooktop we unwittingly acquired.
Several sets of distinguished cufflinks, long ago tucked into a dark corner of my dad’s dresser drawer, have been resurrected on my husband’s shirtsleeves.
A few vintage sweaters and blouses that belonged to my late mother-in-law have worked their way into my daughter’s closet. She revels in her grandmother’s excellent style standards whenever wearing them.
Two small artificial Christmas trees that were lit nearly year-round in my lonely mother’s living room during her last two years of life now brightly glow on our front porch. Their colored lights blink a gentle and warm welcome to all passers-by, similar to the spirit with which my late mother approached those around her.
Joining those trees in our exterior seasonal display is an antique wooden sled I nearly threw in the trash when no one wanted it. Now, surrounded with evergreens and a red bow, it appears right at home in a Country Living-like tableau.
Though fewer gifts may be under our 2020 Christmas tree due to a crimped budget, numerous moving-related expenses and three young adults currently in college or graduate school, one of my favorite “gifts” is already there.
An artistically gifted friend, Sally, creates such beautiful packages it seemed a shame to open them. At my request, she wrapped an empty box two years ago so I could enjoy its beauty, undisturbed.
Loss? Or gain? Sometimes the two are inextricably intertwined.
Check out Time for Moore, Jane Turpin Moore’s blog, at https://timeformoore566445504.wordpress.com.