The year 2020 has been, quite possibly, the most eventful year in everyone’s lives. For me, 2014 and 2015 were quite eventful too, but they don’t come close to 2020. And that’s without COVID.
For me, the year 2020 started off with a car accident while I was on my way to a lunch date. It was funny at the time- ‘oh, I start dating again and the Universe throws a car crash in my face? That’s hilarious’- but I look back at it and feel like I should have taken the hint when I got it. A cabbie got into my lane and crashed into my car from behind me- clear indicator of how 2020 would go. ‘Start as you mean to go on’, right? I started with someone attacking me while my back was turned. Oh, the symbolism.
I remember reading my diary from January 2020 and in an entry from the 4th of January I saw that my first sentence was ‘Well, 2020 is great so far’. Spoken too soon, eh? Having said that, January did go really well, as did February. It was March when things started to go downhill. It started off with gyms and beauty salons shutting down, then offices and then essentially all activities that were non-essential. 2020 wasn’t going so well after all.
While life at home in Dubai was mostly peaceful, things abroad weren’t so great. The year had already started off with the wildfires in Australia but as we progressed through the year, racism reared its ugly head, leading to protests to further the ‘Black Lives Matter’ cause. Fatalities from COVID in Europe and the US rose dramatically. Meanwhile in India, the media tried to cover up the health crisis related news by repeatedly highlighting the seeming suicide of a renowned Bollywood actor and its connection with narcotics and other Bollywood celebrities. Eventually the news became about just that and nobody seemed to want to talk about the negative impact of Coronavirus on the Indian economy.
As the summer progressed, Beirut witnessed the horrific explosion that claimed the lives and livelihoods of so many, not to mention exposing underlying institutional deficiencies that led to poor management of the explosion. Communcal violence wasn’t just an American thing, it was also an Indian thing in New Delhi when the ridiculously anti-non Hindu party that leads the country decided to implement anti-non Hindu policies. Aircrashes happened in Pakistan and Iran, floods in Indonesia, volcanic eruption in the Philippines. Just when you thought things were getting better, the UK reported a new and improved strain of coronavirus that was 70% more infectious, which means Christmas is literally cancelled. 2020 is not a good year.
You don’t even have to go too far out of your own home to realise that 2020 hasn’t been a great year. Many, many households have seen a decline in the amount of disposable income coming in. Several families have been uprooted from their homes because of unemplyment. Relationships and friendships have been affected because of the isolating impact of the pandemic. My own mental health took a hit for a few months for various reasons- when I read my diary from that time I just want to give a big hug to myself from a few months ago.
And yet, here we are, celebrating Christmas like it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Well, to a certain extent it actually is the most wonderful time of the year as it hails the end of this horrific year. Things are starting to look up COVID-wise- vaccines are becoming available (the anti-vaccine Karens might argue that they contain a microchip that is going to track us, but darling, do you really believe that we weren’t being tracked before this?), so that’s one less problem. The mental health issues I was facing a few months ago healed with time. Personally, I can’t complain about anything as I am on paid annual leave right now, living my best life. For the past week I have slept at 3am, woken up at 9am, gone to the gym, chilled with my dog, done some leisurely reading and writing, done Christmas shopping, made oil paintings (yeah, this one’s a bit random), taken my Mum out for lunches and teas, and gone out with my own friends. There could be no time more wonderful than this for me.
There is no guarantee that whatever darkness started prior to 2020 or in 2020 is going to end in 2021. It’s not like COVID is going to suddenly think, ‘Oh, dang, I’m overstaying my welcome’ and leave. Institutionalised racism won’t change overnight or even in one year. The Indian media could maybe start reporting on real issues, but I won’t hold my breath. But it truly is the most wonderful time of the year because for the first time all year there is hope for change, hope for a better tomorrow. I’m not the most positive person in the world and generally believe that the Universe is constantly conspiring to make things as bad as it can. But I feel hopeful because I know that we have it in us to come out of the 2020 storm. So the Universe (who I imagine is a red giant, holding a pitchfork- am I imagining Satan?) can throw any number of such curveballs and I’m confident we will come out of it. So, Christmas 2020 really is the most wonderful time of the year.