2020 offered a lot – an avalanche of events we could not control
January went as always with cold and wet winter days, in Denmark it had rained almost uninterrupted since November and January was not much different. Every day I drove 90 km to Aarhus and 90 km back home. Got up at 4 a.m., left at 5 and began the working day at 6. Often I was not home again until 6 p.m., long days but exciting and the job was still new.
My first good job after a long period of unemployment, so I was keen on showing my skills. I had great expectations, new industry, a job on the East Coast and I’d got my own little car, a VW Polo. I felt like flying!
February taught us new words; Coronavirus and Covid-19. Nature showed us her power and unleashed a virus in China which we hadn’t seen the like for many years. The virus spread rapidly, Italy, Austria, Europe was suddenly the new epicentre. The world as we knew it changed in a matter of weeks.
The first Danes came home from skiing in Austria and Italy and had taken the Corona home with them. The virus spread in Denmark…
March threw us into a lockdown of Denmark, the virus spread explosively all over the world and our government was afraid our national health service could not keep up. Would there be enough respirators?
People went crazy in shops and supermarkets the evening before the lockdown and bought pasta, canned food and toilet paper before we were forced to stay at home. Many countries within Europe locked down, one by one. Thorough cleaning of all surfaces, door knobs and bathrooms and use of hand sanitizer was recommended.
The first Dane died from Corona, a few days after the shutdown.
I had seen it coming and the week before the lockdown I filled up the cupboards with food, bought toilet paper, rubbing alcohol and glycerine so we could make hand sanitizer ourselves. Hand sanitizer was not commonly used, and was not sold everywhere.
All distilleries converted their production to make hand sanitizer. The first bottles were so expensive you could hardly believe it.
We looked at one another with frightened and suspicious faces and kept our distance, briefly a feeling of anxiety had taken over.
The world came to a standstill… and we learned to say “community spirit,”” “hand sanitizer” and “Together — separately” became the way we were together. Sing-along on television, every morning and every Friday night became primetime tv on Danish national tv, DR. We Danes sang in front of the tv, played analog games and lay puzzles. We learned to use Teams and Zoom and held online meetings in front of the screens in our home offices, which some already had and others had to find room for.
For months I drove to work before the sun came up and often came home when it was dark. While staying at home, I enjoyed the rhythm of the day and being able to take a break in our garden during the day.
April gave us spring and plenty of sun, heat, a strange quietness on the roads and also in the sky. No cars, no planes. The tranquillity was amazing, you could hear the birds, dolphins were seen again in the Gulf of Venice, the canals became clear, the Chinese could see the Himalayas for the first time in many years, as the smog was gone. Wild animals took over the big cities.
Italy and Spain were hit hard by the Corona. Lots of very sick and dead people led to a total lockdown, curfews and fines for those who tried to bypass. In Denmark we were still able to go into the garden or go to our summer houses, something which was absolutely impossible in other countries.
The health care professionals fought a brave battle, they did what they were trained for – and a lot more! We can be proud of the doctors, nurses and social and health care helpers who set everything aside to make an extraordinary effort! Many even went into self-imposed isolation and chose not to be with their families for a long time, in order to do their jobs.
The curve of people dying from (or with) Corona steadily rose, but most were elderly or sick. Nursing homes got into total lockdown to avoid getting the virus inside. It got inside anyway…
People baked like never before, bread and cake and suddenly there was time to make dinner from scratch. Family became main focus. Laundry and cooking could be done even if we were in online meetings, headsets made us mobile and everyday life became flexible, to the delight of many and the stress of others – they could not handle the new everyday, with homework, small and large children at home and closed hairdressers and gyms.
May introduced the first conspiracy theories; the Chinese had unleashed the virus to gain world domination, 5G mobile towers would spread the virus and were able to monitor our movements and behavior and the “Deep State” was blamed for Corona as part of a secret plan to control us all – whatever that means.
That viruses are constantly present in our world, that they sometimes mutate heavily and trigger epidemics or pandemics, were for some not reason enough. “Someone” had to be behind this attack on humanity.
The lack of hand sanitizer led some to recommend that you could use vodka as hand sanitizer. In Belarus, President Lukashenko took it even a step further; drink the vodka and then into the sauna. In general there were plenty of good advice on how to get rid of – or fight Corona. Eat vitamin C – or was it no vitamin D, or both, eat ginger, live vegan, drink more alcohol. The last piece of advice was taken literally by some, wine and liquor sales rose significantly – perhaps mostly because people were bored and not because they thought it could kill Coronavirus. Gin O’Clock became an everyday occurrence for many.
I myself stayed cool, calm and collected, since new year I had been totally teetotal and reached 178 days in row before I finally surrendered to a glass of cold rosé. It gained a lot of energy from being teetotal. Energy which I needed for the long working days and complex projects I worked with.
After a month at home, everyday life returned again for me. While the kids were still staying at home, I had to get up in the morning and leave early. I hadn’t seen my mum since January, so I started visiting her once a month, staying a her place her for a few days and work from there.
Kindergartens and nurseries could report a decline in sick rates among the children, ear infections became rare. The kids were outside most of the time, “hand washing stations” were set up in the open air and children and parents learned the hard way that too much sanitizing gives dry and chapped hands. In addition to hand sanitizer – which could now be bought in all stores – sales of hand cream also increased explosively.
June with summer gave a slow reopening of the community and cars were seen on the roads again, when people started going back to work. Face masks slowly appeared on people’s faces, but one would still laugh at those who took their precautions. I ordered face masks online in order to be prepared, they were sold out in supermarkets.
Sigurd laughed at me. It wouldn’t get so serious that face masks would become a part of everyday life…
The travel industry was a dead man walking, there were layoffs in many industries and it continued. In the media the first stories surfaced that the Danish mink had a mutated Coronavirus came to light. But nothing more happened at that time …
I got my first glass of rosé when my mother and my siblings and their children came to visit. A nice weekend, lots of water splashing in the garden, lots of sun and good food on the barbecue.
July and August are summer holiday months in Denmark – many got to know their own country for the first time, since none could travel, and sleeping in shelters became very popular. We’ve always spent our summer holidays in Denmark, so to us it business as usual, even though we mostly stayed at home. The weather was ok, cool the first weeks of July, but we got a heatwave in August. Now the virus would definitely die everyone was convinced…
School started again, face masks became part of everyday life and guess who had plenty in stock?…
By the end of August, the world seemed fairly normal and we could see an end to the pandemic – that’s what we thought. All the confirmations, weddings and birthday parties that had been postponed since spring, could take place.
For us it meant tests for the first time when we went to 3 birthdays and a confirmation in two weekends. All the tests were negative, the national contact tracing app I had installed on my phone in July, didn’t seem to work or no one were infected.
Like the dandelion seeds flying in the wind and growing everywhere, our dreams of a different life swirled around and tried to root…
While many were fearful of this unknown new world we had inadvertently landed in, others saw the possibility of radically changing their lives. Big dreams of peace, tranquility and a life outside the fast lane. Gone were stress, hamster wheels and work, work, work from early till late every day.
What are we working for? And will life be over before we have had time to enjoy it?
September gave a rise in Corona again, in Denmark and all over the world. Would the virus come back stronger – no it had to be over by now. Depression and poor mental health went hand in hand with the Danish #MeToo revelations which for a while gave us something else to talk about.
The month, for my part, ended with an expected release from my job, the job I loved so much – Corona was the reason and I had assumed it would happen, my projects would close. It was an abrupt farewell to amazing colleagues whom I still miss. The one hour drive home with a release note in my bag was somehow sad, however, also with certain feeling of freedom. Before I got home, I had already made plans for the next three months…
October came and within weeks I had a new job. Absolutely fantastic, even though the smell of freedom was far too short. Meanwhile, the pandemic began again. In Denmark main focus in the media was the “mink mutation” again. Many Danish mink farms were infected and it was decided to make quarantine zones. The minks on the affected farms had to be killed, but the mutation spread to other farms.
November brought smaller and larger local and regional outbreaks. The Corona flared up here, there and everywhere and the authorities realized it wasn’t defeated. All mink in Denmark had to be culled – here and now. The fear that the mink mutation was dangerous and could be transmitted back to humans, meant they wouldn’t take any chances.
The rest of the world followed closely on the sideline – how bad was the Danish mutation? The mink were all culled buried and a few weeks they resurfaced due to the decaying process – rotten zombie mink as the Brits called them.
December had more restrictions for us, the government asked us to stay at home, but again no injunction. After all, we live in Denmark, which is a democracy and you don’t want to force anyone. It would also make the current government look bad on SoMe where you gain your popularity today and not by doing consequent and lasting politics. Our Prime Minister has been busy updating regularly on Facebook and Instagram about her personal thoughts throughout 2020.
The last of the minks were culled and an entire industry with its subcontractors had in fact also died.
Christmas was just around the corner and what government dares to give the people an injunction to stay at home and spend Christmas in a narrow circle. We all knew what the consequences would be, the weeks leading up to Christmas, the virus took off explosively again and it all seemed out of control. Again and again we were kindly asked to stay at home, but no concrete injunction or ban on travelling across the country or gathering. Not until we reached Christmas and the death toll rose significantly again. Official instructions on how many we could be and how we should dance around the Christmas tree. A lot of people had the sense to spend Christmas in their own home, alone or with the closest family.
We spent Christmas at home only Sigurd, the kids and I. We did not meet with anybody and spent time eating and playing Trivial Pursuit.
New Year required mass tests with both hosts and guests so that people could have a pleasant evening and welcome 2021. We had a quiet and quiet evening with one of the boys had some (tested) friends over.
Several countries shut down again, new strands of the virus spread rapidly. The first vaccines were approved and 2021 started with a syringe in the arm.
Home bound for the 4th week in a row, the boys and I are trying to get balance into a work and school life with a setup similar to what we had almost 10 months ago. Back then it was new and unknown, today it is our new everyday life. We don’t know when we will return to work or school physically.
In the middle of winter, when darkness surrounds us, vaccines are the new light in the dark.
The zombie-mink will be dug up in 2021, the mass graves are too close to creeks and lakes and in some places just above groundwater reservoirs. A hasty decision that wasn’t well prepared. Scientists now also do not believe that the mink mutation would have been as dangerous as feared.
The r rate seems under control in Denmark this week first week of 2021. A British and a South African variant of Corona are threatening us right now. While writing this a press conference informs; all in- and outbound travel to and from Denmark is not recommended.
I haven’t visited my mother in more than 6 months, however, we speak on the phone almost every day. Loneliness is heavy when you’re an elderly person and you just long for the vaccine.
We are good, none of us are sick or have been, we haven’t lost anyone close to the Corona. I lost my job but quickly got another just as exciting and for which I am very grateful. Others haven’t been so lucky. Some have lost friends, family, jobs or business. Entire industries are almost gone, the travel, hospitality and hotel industries are almost gone. The virus has cost lives, and lot of money which it will take us decades to pay off. Scientist have shown their abilities by being able to develop a vaccine, test and produce it in 9-10 months.
Overall, as a family we’ve had a great year. Being present here and now has been the focus point with deep conversations with the children on how they feel and I think we have all got quite well through 2020. We have been able to live fairly freely despite the disease and the deprivations have not been unbearable.
There have been many losers in 2020, but also many winners. E-commerce was one of the the biggest winners and physical shops as the biggest losers.
The world will never be the same again, we might as well get used to it. But what world did we leave? Was it a world we were happy about? Was everyday life really that good? Do we really want to go back to what we left? We should all consider this before we wish to go back to the time before Corona.
What do you think? What has your 2020 been like? Did you get any new skills? Did you drink the year and the worries away? Did you get more exercise? Feel free to share your thoughts with me.