The year 2020 has often been described as a dumpster fire that many are looking forward to the end of. (File photo)

Column: Fleeing the rat trap of 2020, wading into the new year as an Ox

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

I’m not crazy about rats but, in all fairness, I think 2020 gave the long-tailed rodents a bad rap.

No, I won’t be shedding any tears when this Year of the Rat comes to an end.

It has been an anxious one, replete with many a dazzling low – the majority being the result of a pandemic I’m also looking forward to seeing the end of.

The first impact COVID-19 had on my life was, really, more an inconvenience than anything. It was spring break and, even though the pandemic was beginning to monopolize news headlines in Canada, my son and I travelled to Vancouver to visit my mom, my brother and his family.

I was apprehensive about the trip, but also thought it might be a while before we get another chance to see the family. That certainly turned out to be the truth.

The day we arrived at my mom’s, we learned a case of COVID-19 had been confirmed at my brother’s place of work (it was the first I’d heard a case at a specific business). Coincidentally, my brother had come down with a cold. So our Vancouver trip was largely spent in the company of mom/grandma and ended earlier than anticipated.

Listening to the radio on the trip home, it seemed an end-of-days scenario was rapidly unfolding.

It wasn’t long after my “vacation” ended that the pandemic and related lockdowns crippled the economy and many folks were either out of work or working from home.

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Over the coming months, I would have the opportunity to speak with numerous people regarding their personal and professional experiences in relation to the pandemic. While the negatives were abundant – to the point of being overwhelming – I was impressed by the various ways in which people managed to shine with kindness, innovation and resiliency. Case in point would be the various parades that occurred throughout the year in support of health-care and essential service personnel who continued to clock in for the greater good. In the latter months of 2020, we saw local businesses adapt (at their own expense) and, in some cases, even expand to continue offering us the products and services we needed or wanted. Construction began on new commercial and industrial buildings, while residential construction continued, including a large affordable housing project.

As upsetting as it was to see so many events put on hold, Roots and Blues, Shuswap Theatre and the Salmon Arm Arts Centre still found safe ways to remind us of the important role art and entertainment plays in our lives.

Of course, none of this masked the suffering and loss experienced by so many, or the vigilance that is still needed by all of us as we await mass distribution of vaccines. On a positive note, we are going into the Year of the Ox. Oxes are hardworking, methodical and disciplined – traits that can help us all put 2020 behind us for good.

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