Lessons from 2020: “Next year, all our troubles will be miles away.”

Since 2018, I’ve been writing about the lessons I’ve learned during the past year. What 2020 has taught most of us is endurance. How to keep going even when problems seem unending, and there is no hope in sight. But even with the promise of a vaccine and a change in government, hope still seems dim. Hospitalizations and deaths have shot up, lockdowns are crushing businesses, and politics seem even more chaotic than before the elections. It’s like being adrift at sea with the shoreline in sight, but the tide keeps pushing you out, and you don’t know if you can last long enough to reach land.

I turn to music at times like these. This year, my song is “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” from the 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Most of us know of the song from the more upbeat covers that talk about “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.” But listen to the original from the movie. The tone is different.

This is at a down moment in the story where the family might move away from their home in St. Louis (and away from their friends and the older daughters’ budding romances). Judy Garland’s character tries to offer hope that things may be better next year, even though she has no assurance they will be. If this song isn’t poignant enough, consider that it was written during World War II. Families with loved ones fighting overseas clung onto that same faint hope.

In 2020, that faint hope might be enough to keep us going.

We don’t know if the vaccines will work as expected or arrive in time to save ourselves or someone we love. We don’t know how long it will take for our economy to recover or which businesses will survive. We don’t know if the divisions in our country will heal. We don’t know if there will be an Olympics, if we can eat at restaurants, visit family members again, or have any sense of normalcy. All we have is hope that if we hold on long enough, we can get there.

We face the same challenge Judy Garland’s character and the people who watched her during World War II had. How do we believe tomorrow will be better when we have no assurance it will be? We can declare that we will “muddle through somehow” until things improve. Faith and hope will give us the endurance to get through this difficult time. So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.