As 2020 comes to a close, there will be many who say, “Good Riddance!”
Yes 2020 was full of heartache and a never-ending disease, but I always try to remember the good things. And for me there were a lot of good things!
January started off with a trip to Puerto Rico and a 7 night cruise with my daughter. This was my first January as a retired teacher, and we boarded the plane the day I would have had to return to work after the Christmas break. We had a grand old time doing what we do best, soaking up the sun and visiting one beach at a time Island hopping.
The Cruise with my daughter was what got me through the worst parts of the pandemic when everything stopped for “15 Days to Slow the Spread” which we all know went way longer. I would think back and reminisce about the white powdery sands of Punta Cana, overdoing the rum punch in the sun in St. Lucia, hiking in Martinique, souvenir shopping, fine dining, the casino, and especially the walks and talks with my daughter.
My husband and I were supposed to go to The Bahamas for our 30th Wedding Anniversary in March but that was canceled just as all the Caribbean Islands and the airlines came to a stand still. I was really disappointed but I learned from that moment on that you should travel any chance you get! Life is short and you shouldn’t put things off.
In April it was disappointing not being able to go to Church on Easter. I go on a weekly basis, but I especially missed Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Online services never really worked for me, but Rick Warren came through on Easter with a wonderful service. Rick Warren has far more experience with remote Masses than my local church.
My husband was also diagnosed with Covid in April which led to a few weeks of duress for the whole family. Thankfully he never had to be admitted to the hospital, but it was a very stressful time not knowing if things would take a turn for the worse.
The best part about April was that my daughter came home from school. My husband is an essential worker and if my daughter wasn’t home, I would have basically had to quarantine alone. There were no mornings at the gym or trips to the mall so I would have been pretty isolated.
Throughout April, May, and June my daughter and I did many things together which never would have happened if there wasn’t a pandemic. Everyday we would either take very long walks around the neighborhood or visit local trails and preserves right here on Long Island.
After 20 years, I now know all the different blocks and houses in my own neighborhood like I did when I was a kid in my old neighborhood. We strolled around Mill Pond many times, found a new trail to hike short drives away, discovered a Sculpture Park at the Nassau Museum of Art. In the heart of springtime we roamed the Muttontown Preserve, Planting Fields Arboretum, and the Norman Levy Preserve.
During these months in the evening we started doing 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles. I have fond memories of these nights with my daughter finding ends and corners, sorting pieces, divvying up the sky, grass, fields, snow etc. I got really good at the different blues in the sky and my daughter could always figure out the greens and browns in the fields and the arrays of different colorful flowers. There was always that satisfaction of putting in the final piece and the feeling of triumph. We did ten 1,000 piece puzzles in all. Those nights together were priceless and I will always remember them fondly.
In June we were ready to break out and headed to Binghamton to stay at my daughter’s apartment for a couple of days. The Southern Tier had outdoor dining and we went to Animal Adventure Park and to Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca hiking. It was great to get a change of scenery and it was here I once again realized the value of a road trip. This would turn out to be the first road trip of the summer season, and once again we had a lot laughs and good times on this getaway.
Father’s Day was really nice! We had our usually barbecue and Carvel Whale of the Dad cake too. What made it special though was that my son and his girlfriend finally were able to come over. It was a backyard event and it was a good start at trying to get things back to normal.
Jen’s Doggy Daycare, my dog sitting business fell victim to the virus too. Trip after trip was canceled due to the quarantine which led to zero dogs from March through June.
Then July 4th came! Of course the local fireworks were canceled, but Jen’s Doggy Daycare had a rebirth with Bentley the French Bull Dog and Aria the toy poodle. Both of these pups are what you call quarantine dogs. It really was a great time to get a puppy since families were home full time.
We had dogs all summer and even ended up with Bentley and another pup Lady as regular daycare dogs while their parents were at work. Even though traveling is kind of slow, people started returning to work and needed care for their new puppies while they were away.
In August, my husband and I took a road trip to Cooperstown with a stop at Howe Caverns for 2 nights. This wasn’t the Bahamas, but we got a couple of nights away and enjoyed this town very much.
Before my daughter headed back to school, we went away for a few nights to Cape May, New Jersey and stayed at The Angel of the Sea. I highly recommend this trip to anyone-couples, families, friend. It was a great beach and a fun town. I would definitely go back there again.
Then my daughter went back to school…….
I was sad, but life must always move forward.
In September I tried to go back to the gym, but in the end decided that I actually like my long walks and found great alternatives for yoga, pilates, and other fitness right on YouTube. We celebrated my son’s birthday and discovered another great restaurant in our neighborhood we’ve been missing out on for the past 20 years. My mother-in-law celebrated her 90th birthday and a wonderful outdoor socially distanced party was well orchestrated by my brother-in-law.
I also enjoyed not having to return to work in September for the second time reassured that I knew I made the right decision retiring. Once again I enjoyed the beauty of fall by finding things to do near me.
In October my husband and I were back in Binghamton to celebrate my daughter’s 21st birthday. We had a great hike that day enjoying the upstate fall foliage.
October was also a great time for me to get back into doing crafts. They always say that when you retire you need 3 hobbies: one to make you money, one to keep you fit, and one to keep you creative.
Halloween was definitely different this year with few trick-or-treaters, but I had a great time dressing up all the pups.
In November we finally got to celebrate our 30th anniversary with a trip to Sandals in St. Lucia. The Bahamas trip morphed into a St. Thomas trip then Antigua, but it all worked out with St. Lucia. This was our first time at a Sandals, and we plan to vacation at as many of them in the Caribbean as we can in the near future. Because when should you travel? Any chance you get!
Thanksgiving was only the three of us, but thats what happens as kids grow up and have lives of their own. A few days with my daughter is always a plus and it was great to have her home again, even just for a few days.
December started with my husband’s birthday. It was great to get out and celebrate at The City Cellar. We ate indoors and had some good food and drinks. The waitress even put a candle on the birthday boy’s cheesecake.
I wanted to do somethings this month to celebrate the season and try to have some fun.
My husband and I went to the Jones Beach Christmas Lights which was a great jumpstart to getting into the spirit of the holiday season. It’s fun for all ages!
My daughter came home after finishing her fall semester, and I wanted to be sure to do some holiday outing with her too. The Westbury Gardens had nothing this year, , and we were too late for available tickets to the Milleridge Inn. We did find Bright Lights at the Vanderbilt Mansion and Museum. This was a perfect! It was a warmer evening and my husband came along too. We all really enjoyed this look at Christmas lights of a Gold Coast home.
Christmas Eve and Christmas were as wonderful as always! My daughter and I went to a Christmas Eve mass at our parish and the Monsignor’s homily about family and seeing Jesus in others and the hope that others were see Jesus in ourselves was heartwarming. A very special part of the Mass was at the very end when the Monsignor said he wanted to share something from his childhood with all us. He played an old Bing Crosby Christmas song that touch all of us. It was really special when a few people started singing along, then more and more joined in.
Later in the evening we went to the restaurant that we had discovered over the summer and had a great Christmas Eve dinner full of hope and joy of the Christmas season.
Christmas Day was different not having my son there in the morning, but we enjoyed opening all our gifts the three of us. It was really nice having my son and his girlfriend visit for the day. I guess this is our new normal for now at Christmas. That’s usually what happens. Couples go to one side of the family one night, and the other the next.
So as 2020 comes to a close, I only remember the good things. I pretty much have gone through life only remembering the good things.
As Barbra Streisand sang in “The Way We Were”, “So it’s the laughter we will remember, whenever we remember, the way we were.”
I’m looking forward to 2021 being a great year! I already have some trips planned, my daughter will graduate college, my son and his girlfriend’s love affair will grow stronger, and Charlie and I will celebrate 31 years together.
I’m sure 2021 will fly by like every year seems to do, and I look forward to the laughter and making memories with my family!