“This year can stick it!”
A stunned silence fell over the Thanksgiving Day table as Margaret grabbed her coat, put on her mask, and headed for the door, leaving her small family of eight in her wake––for that was all they figured the state would allow in one room.
The foreign virus and ensuing pandemic had been going on for a year, with no end in sight. Even the president caught a mild case of it. With no vaccine available, the best the experts could offer by way of combatting the medical menace was social distancing, good personal hygiene, disinfectants, and in extreme cases, quarantining in isolation. Some took it upon themselves to try untested treatments out of desperation. Mask-making became a thing as did the refusal to wear them. Hospitals couldn’t keep up with the demand for beds. Wherever large crowds gathered, the virus was quick to follow. Public transit passengers were turned away if they tried boarding without a mask. Schools closed down, churches stopped meeting, and theaters went dark. Baseball games went on––barely. The season was shortened, but the World Series winner could hardly be considered a legitimate champion.
“Cheaters!” Margaret’s husband, Robert folded his arms indignantly. “Is nothing sacred?”
Little Robert Junior, the twelve year-old optimist of the family, rose to his feet. “It wasn’t cheating, Papa!” he said, near tears. “Say it ain’t so. It was the virus!”
Robert’s 18 year-old sister, Ruth scooted her chair back and rose to speak. “Mother is right. It wasn’t just the pandemic. Look at the year we’ve had to endure.”
She then fired off a fusillade of calamities that made the year one to forget:
The summer of race riots across the country that had become so violent that troops were called out to quell the civil unrest.
The colorful and controversial yet beloved figure in American politics who died.
The sport that failed to crown a champion when its post-season was cancelled.
Before Ruth could finish her litany of woes, Margaret re-entered the room and returned to her seat at the table. She was calm now, and in a soft voice, tried to encourage her family.
“Lphph, wrfv hrf tur…”
The family, in unison, leaned forward.
“I’m sorry, Dear,” said Robert. “What are you trying to say?”
Margaret removed her mask and sighed. Then she smiled.
“I said look, we have to keep a good thought. It can’t possibly get any worse than this year and besides, we still have each other. No one got sick or lost their job and we were able, when possible, to help those less fortunate than ourselves.”
The family nodded in agreement as Robert raised his glass.
“Hear, hear! Mother is right. We still live in the greatest, freest country in the world. And while the current president has made a mess of things––”
Robert’s 90 year-old mother, Helen, frowned and lowered her glass on that note. Robert continued.
“Because we live in America we can rest in the knowledge that next year, we’ll have a new president and a bright future is sure to follow.”
“Hear, hear,” said Margaret as the family rose to their feet.
“1920 can’t come soon enough.”