Wandering – Festivus beefs and bouquets

Lorne Wiebe, a former editor I worked with at AM 1220 in Cornwall, used to write a special ‘Beefs and Bouquets’ column around the end of each year. Wiebe would highlight some of the things he thought were great, and some of the dumbest moves, of a particular year. A yearly Festivus ‘Airing of Grievances’ if you will.

Given the time of year, and how wonderful of a year 2020 has been, I thought I would resurrect this tradition from Wiebe. I begin with the ‘beefs’.

1) 2020 – When a senior government official at a public meeting calls this year a ‘dumpster fire’ you know the year has been bad. I completely agree. There are unprintable words I could use to describe 2020 that would make the late George Carlin blush. Needless to say the COVID-19 pandemic managed to up-end the normal working order of society, placing work, school, and home life in chaos for nine-plus months. It will continue for 2021 but at least we can see a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines. 2020 can’t end soon enough for me.

2) Video meetings – No more please, make them stop. Everyone has switched to video meetings when a phone call or email would suffice. The only plus to video meetings is you see interesting glimpses of people’s homes. Note to self, do not take home decorating advice from elected officials.

3) Connectivity issues – I know we don’t live in Toronto or Ottawa, but can we please get some decent internet service. If I am working from home and my kids are learning from home, we both need to do those things at the same time. We’re willing to pay for better service, so communications companies should be lining up rather than hiding from this opportunity.

4) Streaming services – No matter what show you want to watch, I bet it’s on the one streaming service you don’t subscribe to.

5) 2020 – The year so bad, it receives a second mention. This is more about the various government responses to the pandemic. It made sense in March that decisions were knee-jerk reactions because COVID-19 was new and little was known about it. Yet nearly nine months later, levels of government are still fumbling what it does. Officials had NINE months to figure out a plan that would work, and really large credit cards with no limits to pay for it. Come on! What do we pay government officials for if not to come up with sensible plans? (Maybe I shouldn’t ask for an answer to that question.)

And now for the ‘bouquets’ this year.

1) Donations – Throughout 2020 and the pandemic, local people and businesses are still opening their wallets to support community organizations. This includes donations to Community Food Share and the South Dundas Christmas Exchange. All worthwhile local organizations helping local people.

2) Community groups – Many hands make light work, and even in these unsettled times, there are still many hands around. They may be more spaced out because of the rules, but the work volunteers with community groups in South Dundas have done is exceptional. Volunteers are the unsung heros of this community.

3) More coffee – I am allowed two cups per day now and I am happier. That deserves a bouquet right there.

4) Political gaffs – From Justin Trudeau “speaking moistly” to Sam Oosterhoff posting photos of a large family gathering in a restaurant with no masks on – these politicians have shown that no one is perfect and we shouldn’t expect perfection out of our leaders. Competency maybe, but not perfection.

5) Education “peace” – It’s been nine months since parents in Ontario have had to worry about an education strike. Yes there has been this pandemic, but we haven’t had to worry about strike days.

6) 2021 – The year is not here yet, but it can’t be as bad as 2020 so it gets a bouquet. And if I jinxed the year by writing it here, I will make sure to put myself on the beef list for next year.

Originally published in the December 30th, 2020 issue of The Morrisburg Leader.