I regret to inform you that I, along with many others, won’t be sorry to wave you off.
After all, you’ve not been the easiest of guests and you have most definitely outstayed your welcome!
With your apparently normal behaviour, you trick us into complacency for the first three months. Playing the part of a run-of-the-mill year, you offer us up our usual stay-at-home-pay-the-credit-card-off dry January, renewal-of-socialising February and summer-holiday-planning early March. But then you go skiing, don’t you? And, of course, you have to go off-piste, bringing back a souvenir of the most unwanted kind.
Queues, panic-buying, face-masks, hand-gel. These are what you carry home in your suitcase. And once Pandora’s box has been opened, we all know the lid can never be forced on again.
Still, you are contrite. You do try to make amends, gifting us a community spirit, with your Zoom meet-ups, WhatsApp street groups and we’re-all-in-this-together sense of unity-in-adversity. Online yoga, weekly quizzes, learn-a-new-language in furlough land – our days are full, and every Thursday we clap our appreciation.
For a while the unseasonal warm weather and the novelty factor mean you almost seem part of the family. And with a Strict Mum mentality at the helm, we toe the line, sing Happy Birthday as we wash our hands and feel that if we all do our bit then we’ll get that pesky virus under control in no time. But then the toddlers start having tantrums. They’re not used to the word ‘no’ or waiting for a reward. They want instant gratification. They ship Strict Mum off to New Zealand, leaving Fun Dad in charge.
Fun Dad loves a good wheeze and a jolly caper. He likes us to let our hair down, eat out and go on the razzle. He doesn’t want to be the bad guy, telling us off when we book our eye-test at the local castle instead of Specsavers. So, when it all goes pear-shaped, he looks to the north for a scapegoat and puts us indefinitely on the naughty step. But unlike Strict Mum, he doesn’t realise that fairness is the key to compliance. And Strict Mum always spells things out so clearly, whereas Fun Dad’s explanations are often confusing and make no sense.
And you 2020, quite frankly, just encourage him. You give us a heat wave so we all rush off in unmasked hordes to the beach. Then you pile on the autumnal gloom, grey skies and freezing rain so that the temptation to ‘just come inside’ becomes too much for some. And when a magic vaccine promises to save us all in time for Christmas, you throw in a mutation and a foreign maybe-no-deal diversion.
Fun Dad has been doing his best – although, to be honest, he could do a lot better, and he doesn’t look as if he’s having much fun anymore either. He’s tried to rally us for the festive season, promising us a traditional sugar-filled Christmas. But you’re not playing ball, 2020, and he’s had to backtrack from Diet Christmas to Christmas Zero. So, the whole nation is fed up with you now, 2020. You’ve pocketed all the decent cracker gifts and your jokes are rubbish. We need Strict Mum to come home immediately and boot you out.
She’ll be disappointed that we didn’t always rise to the challenge, that we didn’t get your coat and gloves on straight away and march you out of the door. But she’ll be understanding. She’ll ask us what we’ve learnt from the experience and how we can move on.
And when we actually reflect, it may be that, given time, we’ll think of you with fondness, 2020. For you are the year that’s forced us off the treadmill of life. You are the year that’s introduced us to a different way of working and studying. You are the year that’s demonstrated that a Fun Dad way of living isn’t sustainable and that Mother Earth needs some stricter rules. You are the year that’s shown us that abundance is not about material wealth but about the riches of family and friendship.
And you are the year that’s taught us the virtues of patience, kindness and compassion.
That said, it really is time for you to leave now. Bring on 2021!