Notes from Jan

The Long and Short of It

December 29, 2020

Long lines and short tempers. Short on cash but long on hope. Long zoom hours, shortened togetherness. Longer hair and shorter memories of life before lock downs and odd words. Which, alas, are now embedded into everyday.

As the Boston Globe recently reminded me, “2020 introduced or interjected words like: corona virus pandemic, hunger, defund, superspreader event, unprecedented, remote, anti-masker, social distancing, QAnon, asymptomatic, black lives matter, zoom and fraud.” To these I’d add a few more that have caused me anxiety or heightened interest: toilet paper, hand sanitizer, PPE, leadership, vaccine and essential workers.

However, we also began asking or saying over phones, through social media and behind masks, “Are you well?” Or passed along a hopeful, “Stay well.” Somewhere under all the political divisiveness lurked a more caring and kind us in the USA and world.

And so, I’ve wished wellness to the mailman, the woman(yes, a woman) who collects our trash. I good-well-wished David who masterfully hits my front door each morning with the Boston Globe. And grocery store clerks and postal workers behind plastic shields have wished me well. Kindness is catchy, too.

Well, if you need a laugh I recommend you search for Dave Barry’s Year In Review. To whet your appetite, Barry opens with “In the past, writing these annual reviews, we have said harsh things about previous years. We owe those years an apology… this was a year of nonstop awfulness. This was a year when our only moments of genuine, unadulterated happiness were when we were able to buy toilet paper.”

But if you’re too afraid to laugh or google one more suggestion, consider this. The vaccine is here and it might well be titled a miracle. Ignore fears connected to the notion of “warp speed.” Celebrate the diligent work of men and women in labs around the world, and the prayers of many.

And along with the vaccine, more than half of this country feels hope and relief that a new President’s coming. Which reminds me of a story I read this week. Bill or Randy Petersen in the One Year Book of Psalms wrote:

“According to an old story, a traveler walked into a country store in the hills of Kentucky one wintry day in 1809 and asked, ‘Anything new happen around here lately?’ The proprietor almost laughed. ‘Around here, stranger? Nothing happens around here. A baby was born in the Lincoln cabin last night; that’s all.’ “

And today in the midst of the Twelve Days of Christmas we’re reminded of another birth, a world and life changer. Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, was born and placed in a feeding trough. And from that trough, Christ became food to feed our deepest hunger, to know God’s love.

So wherever you are, whatever your daily dreads, don’t be afraid to take the vaccine or to visit your Bethlehem. It’s the place where your hopes and fears meet. And Jesus waits to do more than simply wish you well.

Anyone can do that.

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  • Reply Randall Mathews December 29, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Jan:

    You are a light in a dark world!! Bless you for sharing with us your insights that bring hope to a dark world. May God’s grace and peace rest upon you during this coming year, 2021.

    We send you our love and prayers,

    Randy for the Mathews

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 30, 2020 at 10:25 am

      Thank you, dear Randy and Alice. Sending love and prayers to you in Illinois.

  • Reply Shirley Westrate December 29, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Dear Jan,
    Your words have taken my breath away once again. Amen and amen.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 30, 2020 at 10:26 am

      And seeing your name pop up, dear Shirley, helps me take a deep breath. Sending joy to you and your family in Virginia.

  • Reply Hilda Alajajian December 29, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    Dear Jan, although I don’t comment very often, your post notifications are one of the few things in my inbox that I don’t automatically delete but I had to comment on this one. Thank you for such encouraging and refreshing words of humor, celebration, hope and great perspective as we approach a new year. Your pearls of wisdom are delightful – as always. Hilda

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 30, 2020 at 10:28 am

      Well, thank you, dear Hilda, for responding. You “encouraged and refreshed” me.

  • Reply Anna Iltis December 29, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Loved your post as always!! So glad you are encouraging and trying to calm fears about the vaccine!! I got my first dose Dec 24th – it totally felt like a Christmas gift!! I sang Maria’s (sound of music) alleluia all the way up to get my shot!! Now when people ask me if I would get the shot I can say absolutely- it’s a done deal!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 30, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Good for you, nurse Anna!. God’s miracles sometimes come like a shot in the arm.

  • Reply Radina Welton December 30, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Having traveled to Bethlehem once again, receiving a heart full of love, I still wish you well, dear Jan. Add to that a truly joyously happy new year!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 30, 2020 at 10:31 am

      And to you, dear Radina, and the Petrocelli clan. As my California clan wrote, “WooHoo to 2021!!”

  • Reply Wendy Lane December 30, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Thank you Jan – so good!
    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Love you so.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 30, 2020 at 10:36 am

      And I love you, Steve and your family. We have much for which to be grateful. Thankfulness , like Light, helps overcome the darkness within and without.

      • Reply Wendy Lane December 30, 2020 at 10:52 am

        Yes! It sure does. <3

  • Reply Tara January 1, 2021 at 7:07 pm


  • Reply Nancy Vecchio January 11, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    What a joy to have such a gifted writer in our CBS group this year. I’m so blessed by your beautiful words that bring warmth and laughter to my heart. Especially love the vaccine one where you said “Gods miracles sometimes come like a shot in the arm!!”

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