Living in the Future
When no one really knows what's next
I’ve worked in the magazine world for quite a while now, and I know you’ve got to plan several months out. I always found it slightly jarring to be working on a Christmas issue while everyone in the real world was planning Halloween costumes or staging a pink-and-red Valentine’s Day cover while the world around you is decked out in red and green … but I got used to living on “magazine time.” Yes, I was superstitious enough that it always made me nervous to be putting out cutesy Halloween copy in the thick of hurricane season, always secretly worrying that our reality could look truly scary by the time Oct. 31 rolled around – in a way that had nothing to do with ghosts, goblins and witches.
But overall, I made my peace with the fact that my work life would always be about two months ahead of my real life. (It’s not so different from making my peace with the fact that in my professional life, I would extol the virtues of vibrant wallpaper in the powder room or cranberry chutney in a cut-glass bowl … while in my actual home, my bathroom roof was leaking and I was eating my kids’ leftover pasta out of plastic bowls with my fingers before loading them in the dishwasher.)
In this new reality of 2020, though, I find it hard to feel comfortable with anything I write with an eye toward the future. Who even knows anymore what’s just around the corner? The things I thought I could count on as safe topics this time of year– Thanksgiving, the election, school holiday pageants – are all big unknowns. By the time you read this, my kids will be back at school … OR school will have been canceled again and we’ll all be back in quarantine. By the time you read this, the election will be over with a clear winner … OR everyone on all sides will be stricken with COVID-19 and our entire political system will be in disarray. By the time you read this, you will have your Thanksgiving menu decided … OR you will be planning a very scaled-down version of the holiday with only the members of your household in attendance.
Here is what I do know, at this very moment, and what I hope dearly will hold true as we move into the next month and beyond: I am thankful. For my health, for my family, for my city – safe yet again after a nail-biting hurricane season. Whether things are inching back toward normal or sliding back into isolation, I am grateful to have my husband and my kids with me, every day, and grateful to have a roof over our heads (even if it leaks). I am lucky to have a job I adore and that brings me joy and gives me purpose, whether I do it from home or from my office. And even if I can’t welcome them into my home this holiday season, I am blessed beyond words to count my parents and my in-laws as not only family, but also true friends.
Ultimately, this crazy, tumultuous year has been a good lesson in the fact that nothing is ever certain, but that you can always find something to be thankful for. The time my father spent in the hospital made me realize how much I’d been taking him for granted. Not being able to hug people made me realize how important human touch can be. And, of course, the months of home-schooling made me realize how incredible teachers are.
So now, whatever form Thanksgiving takes this year, I know that it will have extra meaning.
I hope that all of you, wherever you are and whatever your holiday table might look like this year, are equally thankful and blessed.
If nothing else, the end of 2020 is in sight, and it will be 2021 before we know it. And in magazine time, I will get to write about it even sooner! That’s just one more thing to be thankful for!