End-of-December and 2020 Reflections

Well, it’s been quite the year hasn’t it? Truly we never know what a day—or a year—will bring forth (Proverbs 27:1). Much has been written about the pandemic and other events of the year, so I won’t reiterate them here. Probably the top takeaways for me this year are:

  • Hold plans loosely.
  • God is still in control. Life’s circumstances have not taken him by surprise.
  • We walk the same way we do in any circumstances—by faith.
  • Listen more, assume less.

Thankfully, our family had a couple of excursions right before the lockdowns began. That helped the initial isolation not feel as bad. My husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary from last December a little late and went to the Gatlinburg/Sevierville/Pigeon Forge area in January to stay in a nice, cabin-like hotel, eat at a nice restaurant, attend a couple of attractions, and reread some love notes from college days. Then in February we visited the Biltmore House and Downton Abbey exhibit with all the family except my oldest, who lives out of state.

A friend and I went out for lunch during the early days of the virus and discussed it and what effects it might have. We had no idea it would be so widespread and last so long. But we were glad that we had that time together right before it.

Thankfully, my husband and three sons could all work from home for the most part. Jason, my middle son, had to go in a lot during December, their busiest time of the year. Because we were all isolating, we felt safe getting together (the strictest regulations here so far limited gatherings to ten, and we’re only seven when all together). My oldest son missed his April visit, but came in August and December via train, mostly on a sleeper car. So he hardly saw anyone on the trip, which he felt was safer (though much longer) than flying. Those gatherings and Zoom church sustained us.

We had some health issues: the atrial fibrillation which I had surgery for three years ago started up again and landed me in the ER twice. I have follow-up appointments in the next couple of weeks to see what we should do about that. The last hospital visit exposed us to COVID, as a nurse who talked about isolating from family because she worked with COVID patients kept pulling down her mask as she talked. That was the week before Jeremy’s scheduled train trip here, which made for some uncertainty. But we got a rapid COVID test the day before he was supposed to leave, and new guidelines said no symptoms and a negative test from day 5 or later after exposure only required a week’s quarantine, so we were good to go—and very thankful.

Normally I include “Timothyisms” in my monthly posts—quips from my six-year-old grandson. The only one I noted this time was when we were isolating due to one of Jason’s coworkers testing positive for COVID. They had helped us put up and decorate the Christmas tree earlier, and as we FaceTimed, I showed Timothy some of the presents accumulating under it. He said, “Granddad Claus is coming to town!”

We send store-bought Christmas cards to loved ones, but I make them for the immediate family. I try to incorporate their favorite colors and interests.

This was Jim’s:

The little squares were made with the Cuttlebug embosser.

This was for Jeremy, who likes foxes:

The background was embossed, and the fox and trees came from a scrapbook paper set. The Merry Christmas was a sticker.

This was Jason’s:

He likes blue, and I am often drawn to cheery, whimsical ideas for him. The words at the bottom were on a sticker.

This was for Mittu, my daughter-in-law, who likes purple:

The idea I had seen on Pinterest (where I get most of my inspiration) showed a tree made with heart-shaped cutouts. I decided to add the glitter-frosted edges. I liked it better before I added the Merry Christmas sticker at the bottom, but I couldn’t remove it once I glued it on.

This was Timothy’s:

I saw the idea here (via Pinterest) for using shapes to create the penguin. But mine must have been shaped a little differently—it didn’t look right to try to make it short and squatty like hers. But I thought it turned out cute. I had to get Jesse to help me with the eyes: I just couldn’t get something that tiny cut out and glued on. I wished later I had outlined the little sign so it stood out better.

This was Jesse’s:

And this was for our anniversary:

I usually list what we’ve been watching in these posts, but we haven’t watched much out of the ordinary the last two months (I missed November–there just wasn’t a good time to work an end-of-month post in). I’m still working through the Lark Rise to Candelford series while using the exercise bike. Somehow we didn’t watch any of the usual Christmas movies or specials. We streamed The Croods: A New Age and Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey to watch with the family. They were . . . okay. My husband and I watched Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors when it was on TV one night and were surprised that network TV allowed such upfront messages about faith and eternal destiny. I wouldn’t take all my theology from the movie, but the message of the need to trust in God was clear.

I won’t list the books reads in November and December since I just posted all the books I read this year as well as my top twelve.

And, since this is an end-of-year post, instead of listing posts from the last two months, I thought I’d look back at the posts from the year that seemed to resonate the most with readers. My five most-read posts of the year are:

I’m thankful people found something useful there. I need to go back and remind myself of some of those truths.

It’s hard to end the year with a sense of closure and look to 2021 as bright and shiny and new when so many of this year’s problems remain: the pandemic and its physical, emotional, and economic toll, the civil and racial strife and unrest, a new administration with alarming values. But my Daily Light on the Daily Path entry for this morning was all about God bearing His people as on eagle’s wings. My Bible reading in Exodus 33 told of the time just after Israel made and worshiped the golden calf instead of God. He was going to send them on to the promised land, but not go with them Himself because they were a stiffnecked people. But Moses pleaded, and God promised, “‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ And he [Moses] said to him [God], ‘If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here'” (verses 14-15). Whatever happens in the coming year, we can rely on God’s presence and depend on Him to bear us up.

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Senior Salon, InstaEncouragements)