Hi, all. You haven’t received a holiday letter from me in a few years. 2020 is different in so many ways, though, so it seems a good time to resume communications with people I haven’t seen in a long time, which is everybody except the man across the breakfast table and the neighbors I yell to over the roar of leaf blowers.
The traditional travelogue is out of the question, of course. Much as I’d love to regale you with stories about a trek across Patagonia or a culinary tour of southern Europe, the best I can do is mention a two-day jaunt to a fishing cabin so infested with mice that one woke me in the middle of the night when it ran across my face.
Oh, and we also drove to a friend’s lake house in northern Idaho where, based on the prevalence of Confederate flags and billboards featuring glam photos of naked firearms, it appears the Civil War never ended.
I decided to approach the experience as if I were an anthropologist studying a tribe of uncontacted people: no sudden moves lest they attack without warning, avoid eye contact and be prepared for all-out verbal abuse when breaking the fashion taboo against wearing a face mask, which apparently is considered an affront to the social order as threatening as the movement to free the slaves.
Leaving the bubble of home, I learned, holds risks beyond that of catching a deadly virus, especially in an election year. Senses heightened, I remained ever alert.
OK, so that brings us to the tedious family updates. Suffice it to say, the kids are all beautiful, successful and deliriously happy. The grandchildren are brilliant and talented. The brothers are alive, well and still enmeshed in endlessly rewarding lifelong sibling rivalries.
What else do you expect me to say?
You don’t really need to know about the kids’ struggles in remote learning, the impossibility of working from home while managing young children, the pay cuts due to the sagging economy, the loneliness, the anxiety, the arguments about who’s taking unnecessary risks, the boredom.
(Yes, I’ve finished “Schitt’s Creek,” “The Queen’s Gambit,” “The Great British Bakeoff” and I’ve even weighed in on Nicole Kidman’s wardrobe in “The Undoing,” but thanks for the tips.)
Though our get-togethers all have been at a distance and our beloved weekend ski trips are canceled until further notice, we give each other pep talks over the phone. We share recipes instead of meals, plan for glorious post-pandemic celebrations, and lay bets on whom among us will get the vaccine first – the oldest, the fattest or the ones in critical jobs who have been going to work every day knowing full well that it’s just a matter of time before their luck runs out.
After all, even the governor, a solid role model for mask-wearing and social-distancing, came down with the ‘vid.
After months of increasingly risky behavior due to pandemic fatigue, the virus is everywhere. Nobody is safe.
Now comes the part of the traditional holiday letter that everybody hates: the gloating.
Heh, heh, how ’bout that election?
I haven’t felt this much relief since the day Richard Nixon pinched his pasty face, pursed his reptilian lips and gave his resignation speech on Aug. 8, 1974.
Now as then, we’ll at last be free to think about something other than the ravings of a lunatic who would lie, cheat and destroy even those most loyal to him to cling to power.
The election gives me a glimmer of hope. It restores some shred of faith in the human race that I feared might be gone forever. It’s incredibly liberating.
Not that I think our troubles are over.
It’s just that now there’s one less sociopath in power who’s out to wreak havoc just because he can; one less madman calling for vigilantes to take out governors, secretaries of state, and public health officials; and about a zillion fewer microphones poised to record his shameless mendacity.
In the face of enormous challenges to distribute safe and effective vaccines, build public trust and confidence, and restore an economy knee-capped by the pandemic, at least we won’t be wasting psychic energy on a narcissist who traffics in schoolyard taunts and harebrained conspiracy theories.
We will still have to deal with his disappointed disciples who are having a hard time facing the election outcome. Like injured bears, they’re flailing wildly, eager to do as much damage as possible before accepting the reality of defeat.
Many are friends.
In fact, last week I was reminded that a whole movement exists to mobilize them to undermine anything that might be perceived as progress – on social justice issues, income inequality, access to health care, climate security, peace.
On an otherwise delightful walk, a friend told me that she honestly believes that Joe Biden will be removed from office within a year for “mental incompetence.”
I let it go and then went home and did a little research. Sure enough, she was victim to a scam.
The Department of Homeland Security last summer found a widespread Russian disinformation campaign aimed at people like my friend to brainwash them into believing that Biden has dementia. The Trump administration attempted to conceal the report on the Russian propaganda campaign and instead assisted in broadcasting the lie, but details from the DHS investigation were leaked to the media and the facts were there for anybody who bothered to check them.
Not that knowing the truth would make any difference. We’re beyond that. Once the White House invented alternative facts and built policy initiatives on them, the message was clear: truth, like military service, is for losers and suckers.
But enough of all that.
2020 is almost a wrap. The family has survived all manner of plague and pestilence. Vaccines are imminent. And to quote Gerald Ford, our long national nightmare is over.
So, let’s party. Zoom me anytime.
Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.