The year 2020 has been, to put it mildly, a burning dumpster ejected straight from the bowels of hell.
The year has been so incredibly challenging, sad, and exhausting that to look for any bright side or beacon of light at all almost feels insulting. But we’re humans, and we require some semblance of hope to keep us pushing forward, so we’ll try to practice a small amount of gratitude as 2020 comes to a close.
With less than a month left until the new year, let’s acknowledge our resilience and take a look back at 20 things that helped us all make it through 2020. The majority of the year was bad, but these 20 things were undeniably good.
1. January and February
Image: Getty Images / EyeEm
The chaos of serious COVID spreading, rising death tolls around the world, quarantines, and stay-at-home orders first kicked off in March and has been going steady for 10 stress-filled months. But 2020 hasn’t been a total wash. The first two months of the year, January and February, were normal and those memories have helped remind us the fun and freedom that hopefully awaits us in the future.
2. Essential workers
We wouldn’t have survived this hellscape of a year without the tireless, selfless, and incredibly brave efforts of essential workers who put their lives on the line to help others. From medical workers and first responders to grocery workers and more, 2020 highlighted millions of heroes around the world and showed us who keeps things running in a crisis.
3. Acts of kindness that restored our faith in humanity
If we take anything away from the constant struggles and profound loss that we’ve endured I hope it’s a realization that we need to treat our fellow humans with care, respect, and kindness. Despite the pain, there were so many moments this year that helped restore peoples’ faith in humanity. One of our favorites was the love that was shown night after night for essential workers in the form of collectively clapping and cheering outside.
4. Finally being able to put the election behind us
This one doesn’t require much explanation, because everyone — except maybe Donald Trump — knows that the 2020 election is over. It’s done. It’s finished. It’s history, baby! Thank freaking goodness. There are simply no words for this level of relief.
5. Historic political milestones
While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last—because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 8, 2020
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris made history this election by becoming the first woman, first Black, and first Asian American to be elected as VP. But she wasn’t the only trailblazer who achieved a historical milestone. Check out this incredible list of other firsts to celebrate.
It may be annoying as hell, but Zoom and all other video chatting platforms saved our butts this year and helped us connect with each other. Thanks for all the seemingly endless work meetings, awkward birthday parties, and sad happy hours.
7. A surprising amount of good tweets
Speaking of distractions, shout out to social media for everything except doomscrolling. The year was bad, but at least we had some good tweets to provide occasional comedic relief.
8. Some Good News
Some good tweets weren’t the only relief online. We also had Some Good News, John Krasinski’s cheery YouTube series, which came into our lives when we needed it most. The series was only eight episodes, and fans were outraged when Krasinski sold to the show , but it still served as a crucial 2020 life raft.
9. Pop culture reunions
All that Some Good News talk reminds us of another unexpected 2020 savior: pop culture reunions. Fans saw an Office reunion on SGN, a Parks and Recreation get together, and so many more last-minute efforts made to bring beloved casts back together. It was heartwarming to see actors from our favorite TV shows and movies reunite to lift spirits, and in many cases to raise money for coronavirus relief and other worthy causes.
10. Superb TV shows and movies
We had a lot of extra free time at home this year, which gave us some prime opportunities to marathon movies and binge TV shows. From returning TV faves to a flurry of new shows and movies, 2020 was ripe with superb on-screen entertainment. Check out 15 of our favorite 2020 TV shows here and 10 of our favorite films here.
11. Loads of great new music
Punisher and folklore both dropping in 2020 was almost too cathartic to be true. When fans were at their most fragile Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift freaking delivered. There were a bunch of other noteworthy albums released this year that we’re also grateful for, but my god, those two can still make us crumble after all these months.
12. Impressive new books
An impressive selection of new books — from must-read novels and memoirs to highly-recommended young adult and children’s books — were published in 2020, too. Check out Amazon’s annual Top 100 Books of the Year list and be sure to add a few picks to your bookshelf.
13. A slew of new video games
Image: COURTESY OF NINTENDO
Video games have always been a great way to connect with friends, but in 2020 they brought people together on another level. Remember when it felt like the entire country was picking fruit, furnishing their homes, and visiting each other’s islands on Animal Crossing: New Horizons? What a time. Here’s our list of standout video games from 2020 for you to reminisce over.
What a joy it was to spend hours mindlessly scrolling through TikTok videos, learning the latest dance trends, and watching The Washington Post‘s Dave Jorgenson navigate quarantine. The app continues to be a goldmine of ridiculous distractions, so we’re thankful that Donald Trump never quite got around to banning it.
15. Car horns
Never could I have imagined that in the year 2020 an endless stream of car horns blaring in support at a drive-in presidential rally would make me bawl sappy tears of joy on my couch, but alas, they did. Car horns really came through this year and helped people express their approval while safely social distancing, and for that we’re thankful.
16. Custom emoji that helped us express ourselves
Image: screenshot / slack
Working in 2020 feels, at times, downright impossible. Logging on from home and trying to go about your day while tragic realities are unfolding across the world doesn’t feel great, but if your work Slack is anything like Mashable’s you hopefully have access to a library of unhinged custom emoji that can help you better express your emotions. At this point, just make the crying tears of blood emoji official please. We need it everywhere.
17. All of our new hobbies
Thank you puzzles, thank you paint-by-numbers, thank you bread baking, thank you knitting, thank you roller skating, and smoking meats. We couldn’t have distracted ourselves for this long without you.
18. That video of Obama making a three-pointer
When we were begging for a shred of relief from our all-consuming pre-election stress, Barack Obama delivered. That video of the former president effortlessly cascading a basketball through a hoop from the three point line, walking away like it was no big deal, and then screaming “That’s what I do!” was a gift from the heavens up above.
19. Friends, family members, and everyone who helped us feel less afraid
Though we social distanced this year, we all went through an experience together. As 2020 comes to an end it’s time to reflect on all the people — friends, family members, coworkers, therapists, and more — who helped and supported you during these tough times.
20. Hope for safe and effective vaccines
The coronavirus has completely dominated our lives this year, but the idea that safe and effective vaccines are being created gives us hope. The first few people in the UK have already received a vaccine and there are plans for vaccines to be more widely distributed in 2021. In the mean time, you can read all about how you’ll know COVID-19 vaccines are safe here.