The problem with doing a retrospective of 2021 is that you cannot disentangle it from 2020.
Remember our collective sigh of relief when the clock struck midnight this Jan. 1? But no matter how hard we tried to shake off 2020, to usher in the light of a new year, it quickly became clear that 2020 is 2021’s persistent shadow, forcing us to continue reckoning with not only a global virus, but mounting societal and environmental pandemics as well.
As we prepare to close another year, still reeling from so much, how can we take a deep and honest look at the fissures that 2020 blew wide open — from racial, gender, educational and economic inequalities to unequal access to quality healthcare and childcare?
This holiday season, I hope we can find a little more of our footing — not by rushing back to an old “normal” (what even is that?) — as we move into new ground. The only way we can do that with confidence is to learn from the good, the bad and the ugly of the past while leaning on and supporting what is tried and true — our families and those we have embraced as honorary family. I love to look back at photos in my phone that captured the final months of 2019 and first couple of months of 2020, like the one above, where I was playing around on one of my mother’s guitars. She lives in Florida, which has been a hotbed of COVID cases — and I have not seen her since January 2020. This December, my greatest wish is to sit next to her as she plays the strings of her first love.
If that’s mushy, so be it. While there may be a few cynical corners cut into the crevices of our hearts, mothers can’t afford to be bone-deep cynics. And by “mothers,” I mean anyone who feels the call to birth, nurture, protect and raise up another human being, or even a concept or dream. In the midst of doomsday memes and reports, we carry on in service to our families, our businesses and inventions, our art. We believe that the future will get better, not just for our immediate families, but for generations we can hardly imagine. Fast-forward to the year 4500 and feel how tiny you are, a speck of dust long gone. Now, rewind to, say, 8000-2000 BC and consider how those people’s discoveries and inventions, from writing to pottery making to irrigation, continue to positively impact our world today — even through pandemics, natural disasters and wars.
We carry on. Wiser and, hopefully, more grateful for the chance to be here. So, fellow parents: Cozy up to your loved ones this winter. Yes, we’re in sunny SoCal, but bring in the fuzzy feels. Create fun and safe spaces where everyone feels welcomed and heard and loved. We dedicated this issue to helping you find and rediscover ways to connect meaningfully, to create traditions that can be passed on and on and on.
Enjoy. And happy holidays!
Cassandra Lane is Editor in Chief of L.A. Parent.