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STUCK MIDDLE: Peace on Earth, not pandemic

Bill Humleker Bill Humleker

Well … if ever there was an odd year, 2021 was it! For the most part, I am not sorry to see it pass. And I think that I have a lot of company.

It is not uncommon for me to have mixed feelings on January 1st. Ordinarily I reflect on all the good things the prior year has held for us … family occasions, grandchildren milestones, miscellaneous interaction with close friends who are “family” to us. Nothing extraordinary, but, overall, a pleasant and fortunate passage of time. And of course, there is always a thing, maybe two, best set aside.

2021 was different. Now I swore that I wasn’t going to write any further about what an English friend refers to as “The Big C.” But Covid will certainly be remembered as the defining force of the year. It was an unwelcome part of just about every action, interaction and reaction all year long. I cannot think of an event where “it” was not part of the scenery … the proverbial pink elephant in the room no one wanted to acknowledge but could not ignore. Practically every conversation all year long had some reference to pandemic (I will not capitalize that word as many do now); “it” came to every gathering regardless of size. I want to jump up and down and yell “ENOUGH!” But sensible caution dictates that I cannot. We have babies and elderly to protect.

Babies! Yes, we do have wonderful things to remember about 2021. Our third grandson and first granddaughter are fabulous realities we are beyond grateful to have. Yet even their arrivals and early weeks were not free of concerns about which I have already written. Both they and their fond mamas (and daddies and siblings) are well and thriving, and we are very, very blessed.

2021 also saw a 40th anniversary for The Empress (TE … my much better half) and me. And I turned 70. And no, I was not referring to myself when I said that we had elderly to protect: TE’s dad is 91 and in good physical health, but nonetheless protect him we must!

No question: 2021 has seen our realities change. Every time we think we are nearly “over this,” some new outbreak rears its ugly head. Apparently, we must accustom ourselves to adding boosters for the latest variant(s) to our annual flu shots, and once that reality sinks in, we must get on with our lives. A bit more common sense, and a lot less hyperbolic hysteria would be welcome.

Nevertheless, 2021 ended on a good note in our family. We were all together at home enjoying the innocence and joy of children during the holidays … that has not changed. The babies were mesmerized by all the lights, noise and general hubbub. The older boys, like most kids their age, shared their excitement with their elders. It is such fun to watch, and it made me feel better observing that “The Big C” and its assorted hangers-on could not spoil the joy of a child’s Christmas.

Peace on Earth and Good Will to us all!  Happy New Year … may your 2022 be excellent! It’s what we all need!

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Stuck in the Late Middle columnist Bill Humleker writes about family, community and culture in what he likes to call "HendoRock."