By Josh Bootsma, Managing Editor
LANSING, Ill. (December 19, 2020) – December is often a time for looking back on the year and reflecting on all that has happened in it. This December, that’s a taller task than usual for me. COVID-19 has completely changed the way all of us go about life, and will make for no small note in the history books to come. A year that started with the excitement of a new decade was within months thrown into confusion, fear, and stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of a disease that has since killed over a quarter of a million people in the United States. It’s been a time of anxiety, job loss, and disagreement about how best to respond to the virus. A time of separation from family and friends, of working from home, of cancelled trips, baseball games, theater productions, and concerts. This year has tested the resolve of so many Lansing residents, 1,800 of whom have contracted the virus and 12 of whom have died from it.
But despite—and because of—this year’s difficulty, 2020 is a year worth chronicling.
Since I started working full-time for The Lansing Journal in mid-August, that’s what I’ve been striving to do. Writing stories about local issues and topics, and managing the editorial calendar is a job worth doing, especially given the ubiquity of misinformation that spreads even faster than COVID. Frankly, I look forward to impressing my grandkids someday when I tell them I started my full-time journalism career in the middle of the dumpster fire that is 2020.
In some ways my first handful of months have been difficult, as the challenges of starting a new job were multiplied by the challenges of doing so during a pandemic. And getting to know Lansing better, something I’ve looked forward to for quite a while, has been difficult amid so many cancellations, postponements, and virtual alternatives.
But sometimes the most difficult circumstances can bring out the best in people, and I’ve had the unique opportunity to get a close-up view of Lansing people, organizations, businesses, and churches that are every day devoting themselves to their employees, their families, their customers, their parishioners, and their community in ways they never have before. Even as staying apart has become the social norm in Lansing, I’ve seen people growing closer. COVID-19 is a thread that has been woven deep into the tapestry of our lives this year, and it’s a common thread among all of us. I wouldn’t dare guess what Lansing’s finished tapestry will look like this year, but I have a feeling it will be as tight-knit—albeit socially distanced—as ever before.