A roundup of the most bizarre and challenging year ever

December 22, 2020

Dear Max and Rebecca

It’s that time of the year to follow Nafisa’s lead again and do her “The year that was” roundup. I’ve done them for the last few years: here, herehereherehere, and here. I haven’t been around these parts for ages – I’ve been doing most of my blogging at Going Dutch, but it’s become tradition to do these roundup posts here, so tradition follows.

Each year I answer questions pertaining to the last 12 months, usually skipping the ones about my favourite movie, song and book because I cannot remember. I *know* I’ve seen a handful of movies, and read lots of books, and listened to songs, but for the life of me I cannot isolate favourites.

I don’t know anyone who is coming out this year unscathed, having lost something, whether it’s a loved one, job, opportunity, thing, business. I come out having lost my mom, while an emigration meant we had to give up a lot in exchange for a lot of other things. This year has brought so much anguish and sadness, but it’s given us a really great life in Amsterdam too, and for that I’m grateful and content.

What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?

Um, emigrated?

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I seldom set New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m often rabbiting on about the same things – spend time on social media and lose some weight. I achieved none of those 🙂

How will you spend New Year’s Eve?

Probably in our apartment, eating takeways, drinking gin (me), and watching the city lights, while probably spotting the now illegal fireworks.

Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my mom.

What countries did you visit?

France, The Netherlands, US.


What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?

The coronavirus under control.


What were your biggest achievements of the year?

Emigrating fairly stress-free (this took work, organisation and a good attitude), partaking in more crafts than I was built for, getting a great job, slaying some personal problems, saying adieu to some chronic meds.


Did you suffer illness or injury?

Fortunately not.

What were the best things you bought?

Cordless vacuum cleaner, and the expertise/time of the emigration lawyer and the handyman who assembled every piece of IKEA furniture so that when we arrived in Amsterdam, everything was ready in our apartment.

Where did most of your money go?

Relocating, furnishing a place from scratch, starting over

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Learning more, through online courses and non-fiction books.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Scroll through Instagram regularly.

What were your favourite TV programmes?

Fauda, Shtisel, This Is Us.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


What was your greatest musical discovery?

Hits from Peppa Pig! (joke, but it’s all I can think of).

What did you do on your birthday?

I ran, did a full-day multimedia training session, and went for a quick family supper. It was a great day, sprinkled with some Kirsten Goss earrings too.

What kept you sane?


Who did you miss?

My mom, as always.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020:

Watch how many carbs you’re eating during lockdown and make sure that the home exercises you do are greater than the carbs you eat.

More seriously though, I think my biggest lesson and reminder has been that as much as you can prepare for something, you’re never really prepared for the changes, side punches that you didn’t see coming, and being redirected. It has been a year of adjustment, resilience, fear and some wins, and though we could never have seen it coming, hopefully we come out a little bit kinder (to ourselves and to others), stronger and better able to manage life that at once takes swings at you and lifts you up.

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