At the end of December 2019, I made a list of 20 books I had hoped to read in the new year. The book list I curated had a bit of everything: memoir, self-help, fiction, and one graphic novel. My choices ranged from authors I already liked, to famous figures I wanted to learn more about, to books that topped Goodreads lists or recommendations from friends and family members. I wanted to grow in my knowledge of societal issues, exercise my imagination, laugh and cry and have interesting topics to discuss over coffee with coworkers or dinner with friends.
And then 2020 happened. COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown, quarantine and social distancing measures took away all coffee dates, dinner parties and, quite frankly, most conversations on all topics, interesting or otherwise. I didn’t fly to New York City to celebrate my dear friend’s 30th birthday. I didn’t leave my house for a week — and didn’t find that odd. I didn’t hold my nephew for months after he was born. And I didn’t read 20 books in 2020.
So what did I do in 2020?
I worked my full time job from my living room, family room, kitchen table and sometimes front porch, all while taking care of my toddler.
I helped my husband demolish and then design and rebuild our entire kitchen.
I went through a miscarriage and then six months of another pregnancy — with just 10 more weeks to go!
I spent time at our neighborhood park almost every single day.
I cooked delicious meals with homemade bread — and also ate Little Caesar’s too many times to count.
I went on lots of walks with friends, often with masks on, catching up loudly from across the lawn.
I leaned on people to help me more than ever before. We wouldn’t have made it through the year without family and friends stepping up to support us.
I slept in a tent in my parents’ backyard for Walter Family Camp.
I started a blog.
I helped create a weekend Bible study for working moms at my church.
And I read dozens of books to Rosie, dozens of times, with silly voices and train sound effects. It’s been so fun to see her grow in her love of reading. She has favorite books and will “read” to herself for minutes on end.
Let’s be better at celebrating small things
So I didn’t read 20 books in 2020. But I am proud of what I did do. I learned about myself, tried new things, was vulnerable with people, and spent a whole lot of time playing with my daughter. These are things I wouldn’t have necessarily gained from reading 20 books.
This year has been hard on all of us. We have had to cancel things we looked forward to, and adjust to completely new methods of work, life, etc. Some of us have lost loved ones, and all of us have longed to be together with people we miss. As we look back on our resolutions from a year ago, it’s easy to feel like this these past 12 months didn’t bring us anything good.
But I encourage you to look back on the year and think of what you have accomplished. Not what you planned on or hoped for, but what you did and what you learned, in spite of everything. What is something small that you didn’t do, know, or appreciate before this past year?
Let’s all resolve to be better at celebrating small changes, new recipes tried, multiple Taylor Swift albums released, and other little things that help us through each year — not just 2020. I know I’d love to hear your list!
P.S. My short, but sweet, 2020 book list
1. One Day by Gene Weingarten
2. The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton
3. The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davis
4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
5. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
6. Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler
7. Be the Bridge by Latasha Morrison
8. What is a Girl Worth by Rachael Denhollander
9. I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom
10/11. Ben and I are reading Harry Potter out loud, and this year we finished The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire.