Dear son,

These days, the sound of the television turning off is like music to my ears. I get the same feeling of elation when I push the button on my iPhone, sending the once vibrant screen into black oblivion.

When that happens, the silence that surrounds me is near perfect. It’s not quiet, by any means—you and your rowdy brother make sure of that. Still, it’s silent. Void of all the noise this world seems to throw at us so frequently now.

It wasn’t always like this but, as you know, things are different now.

It seems 2020 has taken something from many of us that we fear we may never get back. Our peace of mind. 

Because with every turn of the radio dial, television channel surf, or scroll through social media, there it is again. That noise that screams louder each and every day this year brings.

2020 is awful!it shouts. 

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COVID, wildfires, riots, elections! The world is chaos, and we are stuck smack dab in the middle of it all. Right?

Maybe, but let me tell you one thing . . .

Someday, years from now, you’ll look back on this year through a different colored lens. History will tell you that 2020 was nothing short of horrendous. Dreadful. Trying. A flaming dumpster fire that never seemed to cease.

But, oh, sweet boy, I hope your memories prove otherwise.

Because today you are five. Old enough to form memories that will last forever, but still young enough to glaze over the rough parts.

And in the future when you think of 2020, I hope you don’t think about the masks we had to wear, the friends you couldn’t visit, or the plans we had to cancel.

Instead, I hope you remember 2020 for the abounding good that was there resting just below the surface. Still present even when the world was raining nothing but darkness.

I hope you remember the hours of Candy Land we spent playing on the living room floor. With nowhere else to go, we finally had what we always complained of being so short on—time! Time at home that gave you the chance to snuggle with mommy, roughhouse with daddy, and forge a lifelong, unbreakable bond with your new baby brother.

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I hope you remember the many walks we took through our neighborhood. Smiling and waving from a distance at people we used to never even notice. 

I hope you remember that when playgrounds were closed, you found trees to climb and stones to skip. No longer limited to the tangible world, you let your imagination soar, finding no limit to what could serve as a means of entertainment.

I hope you remember the joy that came with going to school in the fall. You didn’t care that you had to wear a mask in the hallways, sit a little further away from your friends, or sanitize your hands with every outing. You were seeing people (in person!), playing games, and learning new, exciting things.

Above all else, I hope you remember that every act of hate we saw in our world sparked an even greater amount of love. 

When cities were being burned to the ground, there were always people ready and willing to build them back up. When hateful words aimed to tear others down, soft-spoken kindness stood resolute. We cooked meals for sick friends, video-called grandparents, and hosted drive-by birthday celebrations.

I hope you remember that 2020 was tough. But we were so much tougher.

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History will tell you this was the worst year ever. In many ways, and for many people, that may be the case.

But I hope your memories prove otherwise. Because for all the bad that showed up this year, 2020 still brought with it plenty of good. 

And I’d like to think that maybe—just maybe—we saw that good . . . because of all the bad.

Kayla Runkel

Kayla is a former marketer turned stay-at-home-mom to two sweet boys. You can follow her blog, The Rustic Hideaway, or her writing page, K.C. Runkel. When she is not writing, Kayla loves teaching fitness classes, reading books, and spending time with her husband and sons exploring her favorite place in the world, Wyoming. Or as she simply calls it: home.