At long last, 2020, this abomination of a year, is coming to a close. As others have said, this year has felt absolutely endless, as if there was no end in sight. But the holidays have triumphantly arrived, and with them, hope for a better future.

What a year it’s been. Although there’s been so much pain and suffering, not just from the pandemic, there’s also been an upheaval of good to counteract that evil. One of the most prominent issues that America faced in 2020 was the ever-prevalent sin of racial injustice. It goes without saying that the disgusting murder of George Floyd ignited nationwide outcries for justice that have pushed forth decisive demands for change.

Black lives matter, always. It’s clear that America still has leagues left of work to accomplish before this truth is integrated into every level of our nation. Our eyes were given the “20/20” vision that we all seriously/jokingly wished for last year, whether we like it or not. Now, our eyes are opened, and we must march forward together for justice.

Attending this protest in my hometown was epic. I chose this Bible verse to speak to onlookers watching our group.

For myself, I’ve felt with my own share of grief this year. My alma mater has grieved the losses of both my old English academic advisor, and my student editor from the LGBTQ magazine I worked for during my time at the university. I miss them dearly, and I try to take comfort knowing that they can’t suffer anymore.

Beautiful Memories

Not all of 2020 has been a wreck, though. I would be remiss to forget the beautiful memories that were created this year!

I was lucky enough to see some of my old college friends, and it was a weekend of much merriment!

Anna and Vindya, two of my closest friends from college, came down to spend a weekend with me to celebrate my 25th birthday. It warmed my heart to see these two after nearly 3 years apart! ❤

Forever and always, I’m grateful for Mom and Scottish Dad, who always support me in everything I do. Love you both!

Mom and Scottish Dad took me out to a fun little teahouse during a chilly February afternoon. It was, indeed, our cup of tea 😉

I’m thankful that despite all of the low points of this year, 2020 blessed our family with major moments of happiness. Back in March, before COVID-19 began to ravage our lives, we had a massive Aber family reunion (my mother’s side). I had the time of my life getting to meet my second and third cousins, all of whom are wonderful, loving and unique individuals. It was so much fun learning more about my great-grandparents, and the many family stories we all had to share with one another that day.

Our Aber family reunion in March 2020! Love these wonderful folk.

Recently, we all shared the joy of watching two deeply beloved individuals unite in marriage. Watching Michael, my Scottish Dad’s youngest brother, marry the love of his life Samantha on a grand Zoom family gathering was such an amazing experience. We’re grateful that despite the pandemic throwing a wedge in what was planned, all sides of our families were able to unite for this magical moment. Getting the chance to meet and talk with new family members on the Zoom call was awesome!

Michael and Samantha at their wedding on December 12th, 2020 ❤

Mike and Sam, we love you both very much, and you make our lives brighter by being here with us. I’m grateful that you’re my family, and I’m so happy for you guys!

This year hammered home the joy of finding yourself with a group of people who become a family away from home. I love my fellow thrift crewmembers dearly, and I’m grateful to have them as a rock throughout all of the storms this year has thrown at us. No matter how exhausted and worried I might come in on some days, my co-workers always find a way to cheer me up. Only in the back room of our store would you see myself, my Dominican work mom, and my Egyptian work auntie gleefully teaching each other how to speak naughty words in our different languages.

Thank you also to my roommate, Nala, for being a similar rock for me. Grateful for you, always.

Nala and I took a delightful pic of ourselves in our Christmas sweaters!

Looking to the Future

Hands down, my biggest lesson for 2020 was allowing myself to be and feel genuine. As the final step in my healing process over everything our ex-stepdad put us through, I had to let go of every last bit of the “appeaser” identity I’d developed back then as my survival tactic. I’ve made myself remember, with God’s clever assistance, that I’m deeply cherished by everybody in my life for being my normal, kind self. It’s my pleasure and passion to lift everybody around me up in compassion, which is in of itself the core of my personality. And more than anything, I want myself to remember forevermore that I don’t need to rely on any survival tactics when our ex-stepdad can’t oppress us any longer.

Here are some of my favorite pictures that I was lucky to take this year:

I remember that for the post I did last year, I selected “Ashes” by Celine Dion as my favorite song of the year. For this one, it’s without a doubt “Shadows of the Night” by Pat Benatar. Discovering her awesome tunes has continued to be an exciting experience, and this particular song of hers has lifted my spirits during some of the darkest nights of this year.

We’re running with the shadows of the night

So baby take my hand, you’ll be alright

Surrender all your dreams to me tonight

They’ll come true in the end

Love and peace to all of you! Let’s finish this year strong, and continue to lift each other up as we hopefully draw near to the end of our war with COVID. Happy Holidays to you all!!