What will be your dominant memory of the year 2020?

Each year the Oxford Dictionary people come out with a word of the year, a word (or phrase) that became extremely popular and in some ways describes the dominant theme of the past year. Last year it was “climate emergency,” and in 2018, it was “toxic.”

Well, yesterday they came out with this year’s effort. (I guess the Oxford year goes from November to November—who knew?)

2020 has been an “unprecedented” year, they said (Who could argue that, except they might also use words like crazy, confusing, nutty, or a few others), with the language developing quickly. In fact, it’s been such an “unprecedented” year, that they couldn’t decide on a word. So they came up with several—well, actually more than just “several”– 40 words. (Yep, you read that right – f.o.r.t.y!)

The year of coronavirus (obviously)




Social distancing


The year of Australian bushfires (confirms Oxford’s November to November calendar)

The year of Black Lives Matter

Systemic Racism




Flatten the curve


Remote and remotely (and Zoom?)

The year of the Superspreader event

Right now, the word that’s got me is “Fatigue,” “Pandemic Fatigue,” to be exact. And I think it’s gotten a lot of us.

I could put up with three months of a virtual lockdown back in spring, knowing that summer was coming and the economy would gradually be reopened. And I could get some vigorous exercise and fresh air (both ingredients in maintaining sanity) on my (almost) daily late afternoon walks.

But who thought we’d be back to this again? That there’d be no social activities allowed in November. That we’d be forced to stay mostly indoors. That we’d have to wear masks when going into public places (something we didn’t even have to do in spring). And how does one motivate oneself to go for that vigorous fresh air walk when it’s gloomy, probably raining, and getting dark (plus the streets are busy, not bare, as they were in spring)? And people are no longer smiling?

But I agree with the protocols, anyways!

We do have to get this curse under control. We do have to “suck it up” until we get the vaccines to the masses. Even if we have to grit our teeth, doing it under duress.

I will miss Christmas (with much of my family in the U.S. and thus unable to get together and, if the current measures remain, which I suspect they will, maybe not even getting together with the Canadian members of my family.)

I think—well, I thought—I could make it through this new phase until the vaccine arrives. Then I heard a medical expert throw this zinger at us yesterday: “We should expect to keep wearing masks for a year after the vaccine arrives!”


I hope he was overstating the case. But if he wasn’t, I can’t even imagine what the Oxword of the 2021 year will be.

But I can imagine how it will be written: *#%/&*0?#@*

In the meantime, though, I implore myself (and you) to:

– wear a mask in public

– wash my hands

– avoid travel

– stay in my bubble

– do Zoom instead of face-to-face meetings

– keep in phone contact with friends

– grit my teeth and go walking with an umbrella

– and do more reading (but no doomscrolling).

At least, that’s how I see it . . .