From the Editors: A Charlie Brown-esque Holiday Season
Dec. 16, 2020
Is it just us or have the '20s not seemed so fun this time around? Of course, we don't have anyone on staff who can directly compare 2020 to 1920, but the mental stock images of flappers and speakeasies and jiving to big band jazz certainly stand in stark contrast to the nightmare we've witnessed with our own eyes this year.
Where their major pandemic (1918 Spanish flu) was ending, ours (COVID-19) was just beginning.
Where their society grappled with the impact of Prohibition in the flu's aftermath (by drinking anyway), our much different and plugged-in society continues to grapple (and gamble) with ongoing restrictions in COVID-19's midst.
Where they were uplifted by the granting of women's suffrage through the Nineteenth Amendment, we've been dragged down by attempts at voter suppression and misguided accusations of voter fraud.
Unless you count Tiger King, the 21st century '20s haven't really had much of a chance to roar yet — although it's offered plenty of occasion to scream. Nonetheless no year, even 2020, is all good or all bad. Sure, there were tragedies — societal and personal. But interspersed within those tragedies were triumphs both collective (e.g., multiple highly effective vaccines developed within a year) and individual — for some of us, perhaps just the privilege of waking up to live and fight another day. It's a Christmas Miracle, Charlie Brown!
As we push 2020 back into its little corner of space-time and look at it more critically, perhaps its branches will not look so barren. We've learned a lot about ourselves and one another, how to adapt to circumstances, and in some cases shine in spite of them. We may be sagging from their heavy burden now, but given the benefits of time and perspective, more nuance may begin to fill it out. The multiple Year in Review retrospectives at the core of this issue address many events for which we cannot yet fully know the consequences.
Until then, we have a Christmas and New Year's to celebrate — albeit more quietly than most. To make up for that, we've collected a sleighful of the year's best books, movies, music, and TV to help you and your immediate households bridge the gap between a trying 2020 and, hopefully, a much, much better 2021. Happy holidays Reader readers, from us to you.