2020: A Year End Review Like None Other

5 Lessons Learned in a Pandemic Year

I was hesitant to commit my annual year end review in writing because, well, it’s just been a year like none other that I recall. But as I was recently walking in the December crisp air, I easily clipped off a list of really great things that happened in 2020 despite, or maybe because of, the pandemic.

Most of them are lessons.

Here they are:

1. Real Heroes Celebrated

Even before the pandemic hit I was becoming restless with our nation’s worship of professional athletes and Hollywood actors. It’s true. Most individuals in these groups are immensely talented. Some even significantly give back to their communities with time and money. But, are they heroes? Not often in my way of thinking.

The real heroes in our country were finally, rightfully, spotlighted as the pandemic exploded. You know, the people who silently and routinely make daily life-changing impacts on our lives without recognition. Heroes like teachers, nurses, researchers, doctors, grocery store employees, delivery drivers, etc.

I’m forever grateful for their tireless, ongoing efforts. I hope and pray they will remain in their heroic status long after the pandemic is an afterthought.

2. Eyes Spoke

Much has been said about eyes being the window to one’s soul. This has probably never been truer than in 2020. Masks covered faces most of the year, often distorting or muting words. However, if one really wanted to know what the speaker was saying, (h)she only had to observe the eyes above the mask.

Fear and uncertainty. That is what the eyes often communicated in early 2020. As time wore on, a hint of optimism and even joy could be heard from eyes.

Let’s be honest. On certain days, exhaustion and impatience, and even frustration, shone brightly in our eyes.

Mask or no mask. Pandemic or none. Listen to the eyes of the person near you. Their silence is often screaming.

3. Goodness of Neighbors Shone Through

I’ve said it before. Most people are genuinely good and want to do well. All communities and neighborhoods have bad eggs, including ours. However, I will always remember in early pandemic days the neighbors who texted asking for our grocery list to combine with theirs-saving us a trip to the store that week. Or, the doorbell ringing and neighbors sneaking away after leaving baked treats and other goodies on our front porch. And, the socially distanced chats while each party was out enjoying fresh air on daily walks.

All over our community, state and nation people showed kindness for one another.

It’s a pandemic outcome I wish to be everlasting.

4. Priorities & Values in Order

I’d long ago given up the corporate rat race. Our child is a married working adult. We no longer juggle an action-packed schedule. In other words, we were already conditioned for often being at home together before the pandemic.

But nothing makes one assess priorities and values more than the real threat of a life-ending virus and stay at home orders-lockdown.

Ken, my husband, a Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor, has been working downstairs for over half of the year. Never before did I think our experience of owning and working in multiple businesses together for over two decades would serve a purpose later in our lives. After selling the businesses, we thought that chapter was closed. Wrong.

I’m grateful we didn’t have to learn how to work and live together like so many couples and families did, and are still doing. We seemed to ease right into familiar routines, allowing both of us to be productive professionals and compatible mates.

We did put the business part of our lives in order. Our wills and other legal papers were updated. Over and over news stories reported families devastated by not only the loss of a loved one but the stress and strife of managing legal issues post death.

Supporting small businesses and craftsmen remained a top priority for us. Our dining out dollars and other funds were devoted to businesses we knew needed our money most.

I’ve always believed small businesses are the engines that run the community.

Keeping them afloat is always a priority, more so now than ever.

5. Not all Screen Time is Bad

I’m guilty. Raising our son, I preached, “Watching too much TV will pollute your mind,” or “TV dumbs you down.” I encouraged reading, creating and getting outdoors. You know, the old-fashioned way of raising a child.

However, I will admit, during this pandemic, I’ve engaged in a fair amount of screen time.

Today, the choices are endless.

Yes, I obliged my husband and binge watched “The Sopranos”. I can’t believe I hadn’t watched this outstanding series before. The writing, acting and production were each remarkable and deserving of every accolade ever received.

I also watched a ton of documentaries, biographies and other educational programming.

Okay, according to Ken, I’ve overwatched Hallmark movies near the end of this year. But, again, the choices are endless.

I’ve had a mind shift. I no longer think TV dumbs one down or pollutes one’s mind. It can, if done in excess, I guess. Like anything, choosing well matters and so does balancing screen time with other activities like actual conversation, outdoor activities, and yes, book reading too.

So, while 2020 was sadly a remarkable year for loss and fear, it also taught some tremendous lessons.

I trust as I continue to reflect on this year, other lessons will come to me.

Share Your Learning from This Year

What has 2020 taught you? Share in the comment section below.


Ken and I wish you a hopeful 2021 filled with wonder, joy and peace.

©December 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

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Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

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