Why I’m Not Saying “Good Riddance” to 2020

2020 has been one of the most challenging years of my life. Not excluding public problems, family and home life went under fire this year in a myriad of possible ways, and it has been a test, a trial, and a grievance.

But it has also been a chance.

A chance to become something more, a chance to grow, a chance to listen and cling to the goodness in the middle of the raging storm. I wrote recently in our family’s remembrance journal (in which all of us write once at the end of every year) that I have learned more in 2020 than I have in the three previous “good” years combined. I’ve learned to let go, I’ve learned to be still, I’ve learned how to create beauty within myself and my home. I have understood very little of what’s gone on, and I’ve finally decided that that’s okay.

However!

I don’t want this to be a sappy, over-done, “it-was-tough-but-i-did-it” post that’s reminiscent of the far too many self-help psychology books on the market. This is a post about how 2020—in all it’s viral, insane, meme-inducing glory—blessed me, made me laugh, and kept me singing in the rain. Because while 2020 was one of the hardest years I’ve ever lived through, it also had its fair share of glorious moments, which I shall celebrate in this post!

My Mother

For those of you whom I have shared this with (I mentioned it in this post), you will know that my mother has been dealing with some intense health problems. She has been a warrior through all of it, letting her love for Christ and unending trust in His plan carry her through some experiences that—for me, as a daughter—have been difficult to watch her endure.

Nevertheless, after much prayer, she has been recovering slowly. It brings me so much joy to say that she is in far better health today than she was at the beginning of this blasted year. She has been my hero, and this daughter’s heart swells with pride over her mother’s perseverance. I am so grateful for the example she has given me, her presence in my life, and that she’s here with me tonight toasting the New Year and new blessings ahead! 2020 would have been far worse had it not been for my mother’s love, comfort, endurance, and selfless actions.

Chess (ft. My Dad, sister, Smol Brothers™)

Remember in that same post back in July when I mentioned becoming obsessed with The King’s Game™ and having the insane desire to beat my father at chess?

It happened. And it was quite the checkmate. 😌

And now my sister is playing (and *coughs* she IS a formidable opponent). Even my small brothers (aged eight and five) have been playing, and they are good. My smallest brother (yes, the five-year-old) managed to checkmate me a few months ago, and I’m still not over it. The boi has Skills™.

Online, my chess rating is officially 801, and I am well on my way to 1500. This is one of my resolutions for 2020: get to a 1500 ranking in chess. Or 1000. But at the rate that I’m still solving puzzles and playing games and binge watching agadmator‘s videos on YouTube, I am hoping to be there at the end of 2021.

Maribeth Barber

Now, 2020 gave me one of the most memorable friendships that I have ever had the privilege of knowing. My dear friend Maribeth Barber, author of A Writer’s Tale blog, is a talented writer, one of the brightest souls out there, and a true kindred spirit. We can ramble on about literature, Fictional Jedi Husbands™, writing projects, hagiography, church history, orthodoxy…the list goes on and on! Our friendship caught like a house on fire, and she has been one of the great gifts 2020 has so graciously given me!

Also, our texting is riotous. 😅

My Star Wars Revival (ft. Obi-Wan Kenobi)

I ranted and ranted and ranted about this over here a month ago, but Star Wars wrecked me this year. Again. After the semi-lovable trash fire/aimless storytelling attempt/emotional heartburn that was the sequel trilogy, I ended up going back to the basics.

I watched the prequel trilogy for the very first time, The Clone Wars seasons 1-7, Star Wars Rebels, and then…The Mandalorian season two happened and my brain imploded. First of all, I have no words. Ahsoka, Bo-Katan, the Dark Saber, Boba Fett, Definitely Yoda and Yaddle’s Son BABY GROGU, AND LUKE SKYWALKER? I AM JUST—

*screams into the void*

THANK YOU, DISNEY. THIS IS WHAT THE FANS HAVE BEEN WANTING THE WHOLE TIME.

I am squealing in anticipation for the Kenobi show at this point. 🤪

I have become an unashamed admirer of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He is my ultimate Jedi hero, and I find myself very much in forbidden Jedi love 😔. Boi drinks tea, is agonizingly British, fights Sith Lords, and is very much in love with a duchess. *cries* Conclusion: he is a treasure that is too smol, pure, and good for his world.

The Literary Genius of Donna Tartt

The twenty-first century has the next Fyodor Dostoevsky, and her name is Donna Tartt.

UGHHHHHHH THIS BOOK. I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS.

I read The Secret History this year.

*coughs*

It. Was. A. Crazy. Time.

Did the book take me to some dark places? Yes. Did it make me squirm and make me uncomfortable but also rip my brain open and force me to think, philosophize, and romanticize literally everything in my life? Yes. It did that also.

I discovered Donna Tartt when I realized that I had naturally become a dark academic without even trying, and I immediately knew I had to read The Secret History. And when I did, I had my mind squeezed, tugged, jolted, and fried. I have no words to describe this book.

I loved it, hated it, lost sleep over it, and despite some *coughs* relatively mature content, I haven’t read a contemporary novel (if 1992 can be considered contemporary) with that much literary quality in a long time. Personally, Donna Tartt is someone I wish to emulate when it comes to writing style. 2020 introduced me to this mysterious, elusive, brilliant artist, which is certainly something I can be thankful for.

Chaucerian English and Medieval Literature

I read The Pardoner’s Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales this year…and I read it in the Old English…and it was probably one of the nerdiest, geekiest, funnest projects I saw through for my entire undergrad. I wrote ten pages on it, which garnered me high marks, and while it forced me to consume astonishing quantities of coffee, it was jolly good fun conducting all that research.

It was also the final spark that ignited my love for medieval literature.

My entire interest in medieval literature prompted me to consider pursuing an MA/MPhil in Medieval Literature…which I am currently working hard to see to fruition. We will see where the applications land come February-March 2021!

The Great Conjunction

When Jupiter and Saturn appeared one in front of the other in the heavens on the night of December 21st, and I saw it with my own eyes, I felt as though God were handing me a shining gem after months of rockslides. My family and I ran around a dark pasture, plowing through weeds and gopher holes, and looking above the tree-line at the magnificent “Christmas Star.”

We were so excited: it was a reminder. It was a silent reminder of the fact that while I labor here in the middle of this ridiculous 2020, the planets still converge in the night sky because of the order God instilled in the universe when it began. The world, even if I do not understand it fully, is still controlled in some respects by God’s hand. How small I am, but how grand He is! I feel as though the conjunction was the quiet whisper of God: “I still hold the stars. Let me hold you.”

And that’s been my greatest lesson of 2020.

He still keeps the planets aligned. He still keeps the earth on its axis. He still provides us with displays of His glory in the sky. He will right the wrongs of 2020, and while He holds the stars, He holds my heart.

Isn’t that a glorious thought?

Happiest of New Years, friends! May you be blessed and filled with hope in the days ahead!

Emily 🙂

3 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Saying “Good Riddance” to 2020

  1. Oh, I absolutely love this, Emily! I’ve learned so much this year, too, and made so many friends. I hope that continues!

    My family has had a lot of health struggles, too. I have a lot of empathy for you! I know it’s hard, but it can be a beautiful difficulty, and I’m praising the Lord that it was so for you.

    I tried Donna Tartt and couldn’t finish The Secret History. The language and mature content just grated my soul too much. Maybe someday—I’m definitely a light academic who occasionally wanders into the darker regions. And I absolutely adored the writing style and the DEPTH of her work. Goodness. It was so astounding.

    Oh, and I have to tell you, since I haven’t yet—since I discovered your blog through you tweeting something about the Dead Poets Society, I watched it. It’s one of my favorite stories now.

    1. Hi Bethany!

      Oh boy, I am so sorry! I have no idea how I am only just seeing this comment now—I never got notified that you commented! Apologies for my Very Late™ reply.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Health struggles are so difficult, and I am praying for your family as well. It’s a hard road, but the Lord makes us stronger because of it, I’ve felt…my Mom is improving slowly but surely, and I pray the same for the health struggles in your family, too!

      I feel you with The Secret History. There were so many times I wondered if I ought to just stop because of how dark it would get at times. It was definitely a bumpy road. I respect your decision, though. It’s definitely not for everyone and she leaves a sour taste in the mouth with some of the rougher edges, unfortunately. But isn’t the writing style gorgeous?

      OOOOH YESSS DEAD POETS!!! I love that film so much. I need to rewatch it. I saw it last summer, and I’m still agonizing over it. Neil Perry is too good for this world!! 😭😭

  2. This entire post warmed my heart!! From your praise of your mother to the mental image of your little brother beating you at chess (the Adorableness knows no bounds), from your sweet and hilarious tribute to *our* friendship (YES INDEED, our texts are riotous!!) to your enthusiasm for literature, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the Great Conjuction…this post is just delightful proof of what a lovely person you are. May your 2021 be full of blessings, successes, and deep reliance upon our Firm Foundation!

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