This year has been strange for us all. Disjointed. It feels like a car with one wheel stuck in the sand, spinning but not moving; then it catches and we lurch out of control. But 2020 has also made me more mindful than ever of just how lucky I am.
Over the last 12 months, in addition to witnessing the crises that have gripped our country, I lost my dog of 15 years, then lost my home to a fire. I’m grateful to the first responders who saved my life. I’m grateful for the opportunity to rebuild. I’m grateful I had a place to stay when my world caught fire, where I could take sanctuary, and that I learned, in a way I hadn’t really understood before, the difference between a house and a home.
A house is just a place that’s filled with things we need to live. A home is where we store our memories, the product of our life’s work and all that we treasure. It’s where we thought we could keep all those things safe. I’ve been cataloguing every day since the fire all the little things that made up the fabric of my life and how much I miss them. But if you think about it, that’s a gift, too. We can all fall into a place where we take for granted things we should be grateful for. When you lose them, you understand their value in a more complete and meaningful way. In an odd way, it enriches you.
I didn’t know when we started working on this issue that by the time we were done my life would be filled with so much loss. I won’t be able to put up my nine Christmas trees this year. I won’t have the woodland creatures one, with ornaments I’d collected over decades, or the felt tree that children loved, with elves climbing its branches and a bright, crocheted tree skirt. I won’t have the menorahs that my mom put out when I was a kid and we almost became Jewish. (Long story.)
For most of us, this holiday will involve sacrifices and compromises. But this magazine represents all the ways we can still celebrate each other, our families, and ourselves, and this issue is filled with great stuff: a delicious feast for every holiday from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve; the stories of Good Samaritans who make us proud to be American; 10 saucy 30 Minute Meals with wine pairings so you can really enjoy cooking!
I can’t say I’m not happy that 2020 is coming to an end. Maybe you feel a bit that way, too? What I can say is that I’m happy I’m here and that you are, too, and that 2021, I truly believe, could be our collective best year ever.
A Word on the First Responders
My husband, John, and I were just sitting down to dinner when someone outside our house started shouting that the roof was on fire. As I ran upstairs, I could hear the flames roaring in the walls. There was no time to get anything—medications, phones, clothes. We grabbed the dog and started to run out as the firemen came in. “You gotta go now!” they said. I’ve always had intense respect for firefighters. I’ve been involved with the Leary Firefighters Foundation for years and was its first female board member. To help get attention for what they do, I’ve put on gear weighing 55 lb. and gone in and out of controlled fires. I’ve supported firefighters for much of my life, and now I owe them my life. Please consider giving at learyfirefighters.org, or support your local firehouse any way you can. They are true American heroes.
This article originally appeared in our Holiday 2020 issue. Get the magazine here.