A Year Like Any Other

Well, folks, it’s December. And looking back, 2020 was just another boring year, right? Nothing momentous happened. Nothing eventful—just a year like any other. Same old, same old.

With the exception, of, well, you know. EVERYTHING.

The interesting thing about 2020 is that no matter who you are, no matter where you are, it has been difficult. Very difficult. Intensely difficult. This will be a year that goes down in the history books, altering our stories for generations to come. But the fact that this year will have made history certainly hasn’t made living through it any easier.

It has been a year, too, for counting blessings even as hardships arise. Realizing that no matter what difficulties have come up for us, there are others out there struggling even more. This year has not been kind to us, and it has been worse still to the millions of people around the world who have been plunged into poverty, with starvation threatening, health services dropping, education rates falling and violence on the rise.

And then to further dampen our spirits, all over the world, religious celebrations have been cancelled or forced onto Zoom. Easter and Passover in April, Ramadan in May…yearly pilgrimages. So, too, have concerts, birthdays, theater plans, and plans with friends been shoved aside. This has been a year of anxiety and cancellations.

Last night was the fourth night of Chanukah, and my family gathered over Zoom to light 6 different menorahs. We had to mute ourselves when we sang the blessings, because otherwise even the tiniest of internet lags would throw our sing-along off-kilter, creating a cacophony of badly-synced voices. It was touching to be with my family virtually, but also painful. I felt a pang when I realized we could not allow our voices to combine, harmonizing as we sang (not to overly-romanticize it, of course. I’m sure my voice would have been a bit off-key. But that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it?)

So now we’re leading up to Christmas 2020, the final strange celebration of the strangest year of strange celebrations that any of us has experienced. As we do, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps this pandemic won’t plague us for too much longer. Perhaps by this time next year, we’ll have forgotten about a time when we had to ask permission and don a mask before hugging a friend hello. Personally, I hope to move on but not to forget. I truly intend to treasure each renewed opportunity as it comes. To never again take for granted the gift of being in human company.

Each January I create a vision board, collecting a collage of words and images that guides me through the coming year. I create an artistic representation of what I hope to achieve.

So I pass this thought along to you, as 2020 nears its end and we enter a 2021 that may hold a spark of hope. What lessons will you remember from this year of trials and tribulations? What do you envision for the year to come? What would you put on your personal vision board?

I wish everyone a Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2021 lift our spirits and usher back in an era of comfort and good cheer. See you next year, everyone!


Portrait of Athena MatilskyAthena Matilsky fell in love with Spanish the year she turned 16. She chose it as her major at Rutgers University and selected a focus in translation and interpreting. After graduation, she taught elementary school in Honduras and then returned home to begin freelancing as a medical and court interpreter. She has since achieved certifications as a Healthcare Interpreter and a Federal Court Interpreter. She was the recent editor-in-chief of Proteus. Currently, she works as a freelance interpreter/translator and trains candidates privately for the state and federal interpreting exams. When she is not writing or interpreting, you may find her practicing acroyoga or studying French. Website: https://athenaskyinterpreting.wordpress.com/

Read other posts by Athena Matilsky.

4 Comments
  • Carmen Mustile
    Posted at 17:25h, 18 December Reply

    Hi everyone who reads this wonderful post . Amid the travesty we are all facing…. during the lockdown I tried to take as many as webnair to educate myself in RI….I also learned how to bake!
    I like the idea of vision board, I would like to make one of the juridical terms I tend to forget. So I would make that visual board to remind me words, concept in the area of legal and civil court. Then I would make a personal board filled with words that remind me of my ESSENZE and the infinite capability of accepting, along with the expansion of loving everything happens in my life. Each word has a vibration. Positive words are vibrant and return and spreads good vibes among people and our environment. Some of the words and images I would create in my visual board are Bread, Love and Awareness.

  • George Gage
    Posted at 15:53h, 19 December Reply

    Very nice.

    After taking a look at Athena’s suggestions for those seeking certification, I can’t help but remember an expression in Portuguese: Não é só bater na porta certa, mas bater até abrir. = It’s not enough to be knocking at the right door: you need to keep knocking until it opens.

    Put more idiomatically, “Success consists of what you do on the third or fourth try.”

    These words seem helpful in our times of upheaval and uncertainty.

    Best to all this holiday season,

    George Gage, MA
    Spanish / Portuguese
    Certified Federal Court Interpreter

  • Gio Lester
    Posted at 19:30h, 19 December Reply

    Thank you so much for putting my feelings in such elegant words. We did not light the candles this year because there was no motivation, no family. We sat together and reminisced. That was our prayer: be thankful for what we were able to do and enjoy and for having the opportunity to try again another day, another time, for having each other.

    As I said in my Portuguese personal card, Season’s Greetings and Welcome 2021

  • Hal Sillers
    Posted at 21:45h, 19 December Reply

    Peace, Safety and Happy Holidays to all.

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