With this column, I find myself recovering from an overload of blueberry pie, Chex mix and fudge. At some point, we decided to forego any semblance of a measured approach to our remaining holiday treats. “Let’s just eat what’s left and get it over with” became our mantra.
The holiday-goodies coma has truly set in, zapping my energy so that I can do little else but ponder. I hope 2021 has a whole lot more going for it than 2020 did. (Is it really true that “2020 won”?)
For me, the end of the year always signals those interesting “of the year” choices that define the last 12 months.
For example, how about the fried chicken sandwich as “sandwich of the year”? According to a Dec. 14 story in National Restaurant News, Bret Thorn wrote, “Fried chicken sandwiches have been a menu success story of the pandemic … chains soon discovered the coronavirus-era appeal of this menu item, which travels better than burgers and has a main ingredient, chicken breast, that tends to have a more stable price than ground beef.”
And color of the year? If it were up to me, I’d choose a fiery red, symbolic of all those 2020 faces flushed with angst, frustration and discouragement.
Color company Pantone chose Classic Blue, however. “We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue,” wrote Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, on the company’s website. “…Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking, challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.”
Neither should it come as a surprise that the word of the year is “pandemic.”
Oxford noted “the use of the word pandemic has increased by more than 57,000 percent this year.”
In a Nov. 23 story for England’s BBC, Casper Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Dictionaries, added, “I’ve never witnessed a year in language like the one we’ve just had. The Oxford team was identifying hundreds of significant new words and usages as the year unfolded, dozens of which would have been a slam dunk for Word of the Year at any other time.”
Grathwohl called the year “unprecedented and a little ironic,” adding that “in a year that left us speechless, 2020 has been filled with new words unlike any other.”
Merriam-Webster pointed to March 11 when the World Health Organization officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. As online traffic repeatedly searched for “pandemic,” the dictionary website “saw the single largest spike in dictionary traffic in 2020, showing an increase of 115,806 percent over lookups on that day in 2019.”
Moreover, Merriam-Webster found it noteworthy that this word has remained high in its lookups ever since “staying near the top of our word list for the past 10 months – even as searches for other related terms, such as coronavirus and COVID-19, have waned.”
Finally, I think I’ve discovered the maxim of the year going forward: Nobody claim 2021 as “your year.” We’re all going to walk in real slow. Be good; be quiet. Don’t touch anything.