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Don’t be wiped out by 2020 — there is hope

I always say the best songs come on the radio when you pull into a driveway or a parking lot and have to be somewhere at a specific time and can’t listen to it and enjoy it.

Life is ironic.

I was running just a tad later than usual Tuesday morning and realized when I pulled in the newspaper parking lot that had I been on what I define as my early-start “schedule,” I would have missed this song entirely. I never would have heard it. I already would have been at my desk, my to-do task list before me, oblivious to the very existence of this slow jazz version of “Silent Night.”

But instead, I kept the radio on and gave myself permission to sit in the dark of the car, to close my eyes and to fully concentrate and listen to it, embracing a song that I knew I wouldn’t be hearing in the same way or circumstances given Christmas Eve services had been canceled because of the rise of coronavirus cases. There would be no customary candlelight service in my Dec. 24 observance this year.

As a casual piano player, I was drawn to the jazz version of this popular Christmas carol at first because of the extraordinary keyboard arrangement, but the trumpet, saxophone and clarinet elements of it kept my interest as well.

“Silent Night.” Now there’s a song that gives my eyes a watering whether I want it or not.

Every Dec. 24 that I hear it, I am swept away by a tide of emotions — joy, peace, sadness, happiness, regret, guilt, you name it.

Most of all, though, I feel full of hope when I hear it.

What a year it has been for needing that, huh?

Somehow 2020 seems like it’s been a l-o-n-g, slow, fast, disjointed, unconnected, unfamiliar, uncharted, 365 days — almost that many anyhow.

Things were relatively normal in January and February, and then March came along and brought change that only intensified as the months progressed.

Yes, I’ve kept working through it all, just in a different way, void of banquets, for instance, which I can’t say I’ve missed terribly. If you’ve been to as many of those as I have in the last 40 some years, they do tend to all blur together.

But I’ve missed seeing a lot of people I normally cross paths with and consider part of my extended family.

It’s been a gut-punch year for many people I know, and a strange year that brought mask wearing, social distancing, empty shelves, toilet paper shortages, lockdowns and shelter in place — not to mention a presidential election for good measure.

But I still feel hope — for this year and the next.

Our office decorations included a toilet paper tree I made accompanied by the thought — “Don’t be wiped out by 2020 — God is still on the throne.”

This year I’ve been drawn to the New Testament verse Psalm 90:12 — “Teach us to number our days, that we may have a heart of wisdom.”

I can’t help but think of it in terms of this year, how our time has been redefined. How best to use it under the circumstances?

I’ve learned a lot about myself in 2020 — what I don’t do and what I need to do, courtesy of pandemic ponderings.

And that gives me hope, whether I’m listening to a jazz version of “Silent Night” or admiring the resilient geranium on my kitchen windowsill that’s blooming despite the cold and snow outside.

Life is ironic.

Happy New Year.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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