Happy Holidays from Utah! Like I do almost every year, I’m spending Christmas and New Years in my home state of Utah, where I usually share a plate of turkey with my small family of four (plus husband). Unlike previous years, however, there is a big difference in 2020.
I didn’t just fly in for the holidays. I have been in Utah for the last four months — almost half a year.
The Full Wrath of 2020
Saying that 2020 sucked is an understatement. Similar to many others out there, I was also hit by a storm of misfortune. Most notably, the decline in my father’s health in spring 2020.
My dad’s health has always been iffy, and if we’re being totally honest, was the primary reason I left China to come back to the US. With my dad so ill, it was hard for me to justify living a 12 hour plane ride away from home. Since my return to the USA, my father has been relatively stable and recovered well from his various operations and therapies; but this spring, an infection hit him hard. The infection has left him largely immobile and also turbocharged his dementia.
In early 2020 I was making plans to relocate my dad to an assisted living facility where he could get more care and relieve my mother of the caretaking burden. However, COVID-19 threw a wrench in those plans and, like many others who are caregiving for older parents, we were forced to withdraw the application and take care of my father at home.
My mother was under extreme stress and exhaustion during the first month of my dad’s recovery from the infection. He went from being completely mobile and independent to bed bound and confused. She was cracking under the physical and mental toll. It was painful for me to watch from afar.
As the situation became dire, I knew I had to go home and help my family. Truly frightened, but equipped with an N-95, gloves and a visor, I boarded the flight to Utah in September — and I’ve been here ever since.
Gratitude with a pinch of salt
Working a full-time, stressful, corporate job on top of caring for an aging parent has completely drained me in 2020. Everything fell to the back burner (including this blog), and I use what little free time I have to decompress and sleep. If I had a kid, I honestly don’t know what I’d do. Kudos to all you moms during the pandemic — again, I don’t know how you do it.
Despite all this bad, I try to see the good. I try to be grateful. I know that I have it much, much better than other Americans struggling through the pandemic. Here is what I’ve been grateful for throughout 2020.
- I’m grateful I can work remotely from home and keep my job. Whenever the stress from my job makes me want to jump in front of a semi truck, I try to tell myself at least I have a job — and a safe one at that.
- I’m weirdly thankful the pandemic has brought me to Utah. I am staying with my brother, and everyday we go to my parents’ place nearby for lunch and diner. This has been a nice change from staying in an empty house in Portland. I don’t see my husband for weeks at a time when my husband works his long night shifts, which can be difficult. During quarantine, it’s nice to be with family instead of all alone.
- I am forever grateful to my understanding and loving husband, who has been supportive of my decision to stay in Utah. It’s been hard being separated from one another, but his patience and empathy to let me stay with family during these trying times has meant a lot to me.
- I am thankful that America is a country of plentiful and awe-inspiring nature. The great highway system and the treasure that is our national and state parks have given me wonderful (and safe) road trip vacations in 2020, despite the pandemic. Although it’s winter and the cold weather now has us perpetually indoors, I’m grateful that I was able to escape to some truly stunning natural wonders in the spring and summer
To a Better New Year
Well, we can only go up from here, right? The vaccine is out, hope is on the horizon, and Trump will no longer be the US president. While the problems of the pandemic won’t be fully solved in the next year, I know for certain that 2021 will be a much better year than 2020.
I hope everyone who stumbles upon this blog had a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! To better times in 2021!