By John Stone

As we near the end of 2020, one hears a lot about what has happened. Many say they wish this year could be just forgotten.

Most of us would probably say this has not been a good year mostly because of the coronavirus pandemic. And that has probably been the greatest abnormality of 2020 or many other years.

Many have contracted the virus and gotten sick or died. Some who had it still struggle with the after effects of the disease, others were hardly affected at all.

Our lifestyles have been changed with lockdowns, restrictions on gatherings, learn-from-home schooling and business limitations. Some have lost work or business as shopper numbers drop because of restrictions on businesses meant reduced numbers of employees were needed to operate the business. Some businesses have been unable to survive eliminating work for employees and owners as well.

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After that list, it would seem that 2020 was a bummer of a year.

But sometimes bad things bring out good things. Our health care workers have been on edge since last spring, always on the alert for COVID-19 symptoms and always on the alert for the newest treatments for a disease about which new knowledge is gained each and every day. Yet they go to work every day trying to help us with the latest they have learned and give their best efforts for us.

The scientists who created multiple vaccines that we hope will put this all behind us geared their efforts up several notches to find ways to create and manufacture vaccines more rapidly. Various agencies and businesses involved moving vaccines to places around the country have worked together to get the job done with a high level of efficiency.

And our school staffs have worked hard to continue teaching under challenging circumstances trying to blend technology with personal contact.

And businesses have adapted to changing times and changing guidance for safety.

Maybe family and personal relationships have taken the hardest hit. Family get-togethers have been limited, gatherings of friends have been limited and many normal seasonal activities have been limited for families and friends. Perhaps most tragic is families with members in nursing homes or hospitals they have been unable to visit. And it has all been done to protect each other.

As we have limped through these changes, our appreciation for those relationships has increased. We miss those gatherings of family and friends, those born of tradition and the less formal kind.

Sure we’ve had Zoom, FaceTime and other technological ways to communicate but as nice as they are, they aren’t quite the same.

The coming year should be better, especially with a vaccine that should be available for us over the next six months. Maybe we can actually see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel!

So maybe the good thing that has come from 2020 is the reminder of how important our interaction with family and friends really is to us. The next time we gather we will appreciate it even more. We won’t take those events for granted again!

Happy New Year!

John Stone is the former mayor of Glenwood and former publisher of the Pope County Tribune and Starbuck Times. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.