NEW YORK – Zoom, Zoom and Zoom. Masks, masks and masks. Sourdough starter and short-order cooking. In these “troubled times,” in our sweat pants and the isolation we endure “out of an abundance of caution,” there isn’t much not to be over as 2020 comes to a longed-for halt.
With the election behind us, along with its deluge of texts and cries of fake news, the year was a mess of common horrors and inconveniences driven by political divisions, racial injustice and the deadly and persistent pandemic, with chronic language to match.
But not all things 2020 need to be left behind. More white people have realized racism is real and present. Quppies (as in quarantine puppies) and Quittens (the feline equivalent) have enriched millions of lives. Family dinner is back on the table and coronavirus pods have turned friends into family.
Here are a few more things we’re over as we lurch into 2021, and a few things we may just remember fondly:
Kindergarten students wear face masks and are seated at a proper distance in Yonkers, New York in October. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
There’s no denying that some kids have done OK and others have suffered greatly from school at home, as have their parents. And when the pandemic sputters to an end, all kids will return to their classrooms.
While we wait, let’s talk teacher heroes trying to make the most of their worst-case scenarios. They’ve organized drive-by parades and made TikTok dance videos for gym class. They’ve delivered meals to students and written encouraging chalk messages on doorsteps. They’ve transformed kitchens into chemistry labs and tutored kids through porch doors.
Do those of us who can’t or won’t march back into movie theaters miss the big screen experience? Sure. But streaming exploded at just the right time, including first-run films available at home. That means a dizzying array of choices, but also that parents don’t have to suffer in the dark through “Trolls World Tour.” It means more couples are cuddling up on the couch and more families are making their own popcorn to sit down together for movie night.
Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator and owner of NBCUniversal, reportedly passed a telling milestone: It now has more streaming subscribers than cable-TV subscribers.
What we’re over? Let’s work on decent, affordable Wi-Fi for all.
OH THE BREAD
We made bread. We made bread! WE MADE BREAD. Yes, we did. And now we’re thinking it might be time to stop. As the pandemic brought on baking — and hoarding — madness in March, flour was in short supply for a time, along with yeast.
Some companies reported the biggest spikes in sales were for bread flour. With nothing but time at home for plenty of proving and chilling of dough, many in quarantine tried their hand at bread. And who’s the queen? Sourdough, along with her mother.
Talk of sourdough starters spread like a loaf on fire. Boasts of decades-old mothers proliferated. Then the COVID 19 (pounds, not virus) led some to reconsider all that baking.
But, the thing is, we did it!
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
We’ve hiked. We’ve walked. We’ve dined outdoors. As winter descends in cold-weather environs, are we over it or merely bundling up to continue seeking space free of walls? Add-on value of leaving one’s home in a pandemic: Being able to wave at the neighbors without stopping to say hello, because coronavirus, and because we’re all introverts now.
The great outdoors has led some to rediscover what’s right in front of them: their local parks, their backyards, their decks, their porches. And they’ve spent some of their newfound time sprucing them up. Work from home office views are now trees and gardens and birds for many.
Outside isn’t entirely out of reach for those facing down winter, and for all who are supremely over working from home.
DUMP THE DOOMSCROLLING
We bought new distractions and made long to-do lists. We had big pandemic plans, darn it. Perhaps we’ve done a thing or two, but the endless time-suck of consuming negative news has us prone and fretting much of the time.
Let’s free ourselves, people! Halt the endless doomscrolling, especially at night when sleep would be the smarter choice.
Need something to do instead? Take up a collection with neighbors of all that stuff we’ve hoarded and donate it to a soup kitchen or food pantry. And guess what, they’ll take our pile of Fresh Direct bags, too.
Added incentive: Some of our doomsday cache may be approaching expiration dates. Does anything last forever?
THAT SPIKY SPHERE
We’re certainly over COVID-19, but are we also over the coronavirus model? You know the one. It’s the round image with the germ’s notorious crown-like spikes. Sometimes it’s red, sometimes blue or purple, but always, always ominous.
The prickly orb is on every news and medical site. It’s all over TV and on flyers for COVID car cleaning. It’s a nasty little emoji guest that needs to go home.
Graphic designers everywhere, please come up with something else! It DID serve nicely as a vivid reminder of the murderous little devil. Now, over it.
Oh boy, what an election it was. Choosing a president fueled the chaos in our lockdown minds, but something else occurred in 2020. It was the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.
Congress passed the 19th Amendment on June 4, 1919. It was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. We marked the centennial with a special postage stamp, museum exhibitions and the like.
But the fight didn’t end in 1920. Practically speaking, Black women, indigenous women and other women of color continued to face stumbling blocks. Over that, then and now.
GET OVER BEING OVER IT
Are these unprecedented times?
Well, when it comes to the pandemic, a little something called Black Death killed 25 to 30 million people from 1347 to 1352. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 500 million people, or one-third of the world’s population, were infected in the flu pandemic of 1918-19. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide.
How about getting over being Over It? Tired of wearing masks, following other protocols, being housebound, having to sacrifice? Consider that some of our grandfathers stormed the beaches of Normandy and slogged through the jungles of Vietnam. Consider that business owners have lost their livelihoods and families are struggling to afford food.
When it comes to the U.S. election, the times, they were unprecedented. But the caterwauling. We’re over it. People are truly suffering. For those of us who have jobs and food and a roof, just breathe.
As one Holocaust survivor put it: Things of importance fade into oblivion when NEVER AGAIN is reduced to a meaningless mantra.