Highlights of 2020

I don’t know if “highlights” is really the appropriate word for 2020…lowlights? Shadows? Bright spots amid the dumpster fire? Woof, what a year.

• Spent January and February living my normal life: working in an actual office, teaching CCD, attending Frassati events, volunteering with the Sisters of Life, hanging out with friends, going to parties, eating at restaurants, and walking around New York City. I also saw Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway and went to an orchestra concert at Juilliard.

• Within the first six weeks of 2020, I witnessed someone vomiting in front of me on the subway three different times. Riding the subway is not something I miss about NYC life and commuting to an office.

• In February, I traveled to Indiana for the baptism of Felix, my godson, and got to spend some time visiting with Liz and her family.

• Started working from home in mid-March and haven’t been back to the office since. I came out to my parents’ house in New Jersey in March, where I ended up spending most of the year. It was good to be out of the city during the worst of the pandemic, and I was able to spend a lot more time outside, which was nice. We also got to do a lot of family bonding. :) And in between meetings, I ended up giving lots of belly rubs to my sister’s dog, Aughie.

• Switched from teaching in-person CCD to teaching via Zoom for the final month or so of classes. My students’ Confirmation was postponed and still hasn’t happened yet.

• After March Madness became March Sadness, I organized a different kind of bracket pool: Aughie Madness! I took the predicted bracket for this year made by Sports Illustrated, printed out all the team logos, and put them before Aughie with a treat in front of each to see which one he’d pick. Filling out March Madness brackets is a big tradition in my family, so I was glad to be able to continue it, albeit in a very untraditional year. My family and I had fun filming each set of games, and Aughie really enjoyed the concept of extra treats.

• Joined the Frassati Fellowship of NYC for over 100 Rosary nights via Zoom. I’ve been very grateful for the Frassati community this year and all the ways we’ve been able to come together virtually while we can’t be together in person.

• Celebrated the Easter Triduum without ever entering a church. So weird. Overall we watched twelve weeks of livestreamed Masses before being able to return to church in person.

• Finally cleaned out my childhood bedroom and sorted through many piles of stuff that had accumulated through the years.

• Received confession and a priestly blessing from the newly ordained Father Malachy, C.F.R., who has been a friend of mine for years through the Frassati Fellowship. I watched his ordination via Zoom but was able to visit with him in person, outdoors, the following week.

In June, we lost my beloved grandmother. Nanny was truly a special woman, and my family and I were all so, so blessed to have her in our life. Saying goodbye was hard, and our lives have been very different without her, but I was so grateful for all the graces surrounding her peaceful death. We were able to have a funeral Mass on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the very first funeral that her parish held after the pandemic. I am grateful in so many ways for her love and example, and I’ve been keeping her memory close.

• Went on a Frassati hike in July and attended an outdoor Mass celebrated by Father Malachy, which he offered for my grandmother. It was awesome to be able to see a few friends in person again!

• My mom had eye surgery in July, which thankfully went well. I was glad that I was staying here to help out while she recovered.

• Took lots of walks during the summer and fall.

• At the end of July, I fainted while walking back home after a run. It was a fluke thing; I woke up in the bushes and didn’t remember what happened. But after a bunch of medical tests, there was nothing to be concerned about. Mainly I learned that I need to drink more water, especially in the summer—clearly I am not designed for the heat.

• Went to my sister’s bridal shower in September. We were able to have an open-air luncheon with some family and friends. It was nice to do something to celebrate her, since a lot of the other events surrounding the wedding had to be canceled or changed due to the pandemic.

• Attended a one-day Frassati retreat in September. They found the perfect venue for it: an open-air church. It was great to see my friends and have a little bit of normalcy, even if we were all wearing masks!

• Celebrated my sister’s wedding in October! The reception had to be a lot smaller than originally planned, but I think it turned out really special nevertheless, and the ceremony was beautiful, combining Catholic and Jewish traditions.

• Drove to Indiana at the end of October to spend a few weeks visiting with Liz and her family while her husband was recovering from surgery. I got to spend Halloween with them—Bridget dressed up as a nurse, and Felix was a fireman. We didn’t go trick-or-treating, but they aren’t old enough to really know what they’re missing yet. They did enjoy having a bit of candy, though!

• Went to my cousin’s bridal shower in November.

• Celebrated my birthday with a family dinner.

• Went to Thanksgiving at my sister and brother-in-law’s new house, which they had just moved into the day before!

• Returned to my apartment in NYC in December, spending one last week together with Mandy as roommates. And celebrated her engagement!

We had a snowstorm while I was there.

• Spent Christmas with my family in New Jersey. It was very weird not being able to see my extended family in person this year, but we connected over the phone and via Zoom. And we had extra time to watch Christmas movies together in our pajamas at home.

• Thoroughly enjoyed Notre Dame’s undefeated regular season in football (especially that win at home over Clemson!), only to be sorely disappointed by the ACC championship. ND ended up being lucky enough to get picked for the playoff anyway, but to be honest, I’m pretty terrified of having to face Alabama in our game today. Wish us luck.

To say that this year has brought a lot of new challenges is an understatement. There are many friends and family members that I wish I could have seen in person but instead only saw via Facetime and Zoom; there are so many I know who have dealt with crisis and loss over the course of this year. But there has been a lot of beauty, too, and the unexpected gift of having time to slow down and be with my immediate family. Whatever 2021 brings, I hope we may all find a joy that transcends the ups and downs of this life. Wishing you all a happy new year!

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