2020 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  I always say that memorable does not mean it is necessarily positive, and this year more than most will include some negative experiences.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 25th annual list.

When considering 2020, there are three memorable things that for good or for ill (mostly ill) affected just about everyone.

  • The COVID-19 Pandemic hit the United States in March and life was turned upside down. Apparently the monkey paw’s finger curled when it heard me say that I wished I didn’t have such a long commute and could spend more time with my kids. We’ve all been home together every day since St. Patrick’s Day. Family togetherness has its plusses and minuses but we will surely always remember this time. And working from home is kind of boring, but I did get to make use of my back porch as an outdoor office for five months after neglecting it for most of the 13 years we’ve lived here. Of course, I am very grateful that we have a home, my wife and I are still employed, and no one we know has succumbed to COVID. We are extremely privileged.
  • 2020 also saw an uprising in the Black Lives Matter movement that’s been developing since at least 2013, after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. The mass protests touched every corner of the country and the world, even our neighborhood, and we were gratefully to see so many people out in support. It feels like something changed for the better this year in America’s reckoning racial inequality and violence, although there is still significant progress to be made.
  • Finally, there were the 2020 Elections. The defeat of Donald Trump, who never should’ve been president in the first place and should’ve been removed from office long ago, was a positive outcome. As unenthused as I am with Joe Biden as president, at least we have a chance to steer the country away from full-on fascism. Early in the year, I actually attended a presidential candidate rally for the first time when I saw Bernie Sanders by happenstance on Boston Common (back when standing in crowds of people wasn’t scary!). Through the year I’ve been trying to do my part to support progressive candidates and causes throughout the country, including the upcoming Georgia Senate runoff elections. I also got to vote in Fenway Park!

With that said, here are 17 more memorable things about 2020.

  • Boston By Foot – I spent most of the first two months of this year researching and writing a walking tour of Boston Common that I hoped to debut this year about indigenous people and early European settlers on the Shawmut Peninsula prior to 1630. That tour will hopefully go out in 2021. Instead of walking tours, this year I did presentations online, including a 10-year anniversary retrospective of our trip to Amsterdam, some storytelling events, and a live presentation from Franklin Park.
  • Myrtle Beach – On February break, we traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Visiting a seaside town in the offseason was an odd preview of the empty streets and eerie silences that would become familiar once the pandemic hit the next month. But we also got to go go-karting, tour the beautiful Brookgreen Gardens in the rain, see sharks and jellyfish up close at Ripley’s Aquarium, and play the links at the home of the Professional Min-Golf Masters tournament.
  • Games, games, games – For the past five years or so, I’ve joined some fellow Boston By Foot guides for team trivia at bars in Boston once a month. Early in the pandemic, we tried virtual trivia through Zoom instead, and without even discussing it began playing weekly. Sometimes we even won! We also kept in touch with some college friends in Virgina by playing Jackbox games online. At home, my daughter made it a goal early in the pandemic to play every board game we own. I think we did it, maybe?
  • Another one of Kay’s accomplishments while we were home a lot this spring, was learning how to ride a bike and becoming quite adept at it!
  • Being home meant spending a lot more time in our back yard which was always an underappreciated luxury in the city. We even got a hammock, a pool, and occasionally a homemade slip & slide.
  • Father’s Day was warmly celebrated with cards, a walk in the woods, and turkeys.
  • Crane Beach – I took Kay, our beach-loving child, on three visits to Crane Beach in Ipswich. The first visit in July was really the first time we did anything that felt normal in this pandemic year and the stress of daily life melted away for a few hours. The other visits were cooler and gray, but we still had fun building in the sand and jumping in the waves.
  • 4th of July – Sometime in mid-May, people in our neighborhood began launching fireworks on a nightly basis. We knew that this would be a big year for homemade artisanal firework displays on Independence Day and there’s something to be said about being able to watch from the porch rather than schlepping to the Esplanade. The kids and I also went to a drive-in movie for the first time.
  • Baseball – I didn’t pay much attention to Major League Baseball’s shortened season (and I’m going to pretend it wasn’t a real season so I don’t have to acknowledge the Dodgers as World Series Champions). The biggest heartbreak in our household this spring was the cancellation of the youth baseball season. Not only do the kids love parenting baseball, but hanging out with the other parents during games is a big part of my annual social activity. During the summer, Peter was able to play games with two teams, and then in the fall played in a tournament and on a Fall Ball team on a full-sized diamond. He even hit his first home run! Meanwhile, Kay got to have some practices and pick-up games to scratch the baseball itch.
  • Susan’s father has been ill most of the year and had major surgery in July. We had to adjust to Susan being away for two weeks, and then she surprised us by coming home early. On the sweet side of things, Peter has showed his support for his grandfather by talking with him about Florida Gators sports.
  • The absolute highlight of our year was our visit to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. I made all the reservations for an exciting expedition in January and February, and then worried for six months about whether we should actually go. Luckily everything worked out and we spent a week in the great outdoors of nature’s wonderland! I published seven blog posts with a travelogue of our adventures, starting here: https://othemts.wordpress.com/2020/09/10/day-1-salt-lake-city-to-grand-teton-national-park/
  • Kay embraced Halloween with great enthusiasm this year including delivering treats to her friends at the beginning of October, making thematic art, carving pumpkins, and dressing as Darth Kayder with a dark chicken apprentice. We also enjoyed seeing the Zoo Lights at Franklin Park Zoo.
  • Peter spent his last day as a 12-year-old in the emergency room as he broke his clavicle after a fall while playing flag football with his friends in the first snowfall of the season. He was impressively resilient in dealing with a painful and inconvenient injury to begin his teenage years.
  • Plymouth – Typically, 3rd grade classes visit Plymouth, MA on a field trip but Kay only got a virtual version. So on Veteran’s Day we met up with a classmate and visited Plimoth Patuxet and the Mayflower II, coincidentally on the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower Compact.
  • Kay celebrated a socially-distanced 9th birthday party in our backyard with a Star Wars theme, complete with decorated cupcakes and lightsaber battles.
  • The first big snow fall of the year lead to some great sledding for Kay and her friends.
  • Finally, we embraced Christmas whole-heartedly by getting a gorgeous tree, three different advent calendars, and opening gifts galore. We also enjoyed meeting up with Kay’s buddy again for Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village.


2018 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 23rd annual list.

  1. December 30 2017 – January 1, 2018 – New Year in Vermont

Technically, this partially occurred last year, but since I wrote last year’s list before it happened it didn’t make that list.  Anyhow, we finished out 2017/began 2018 with family and friends in Vermont which involved snow tubing, Anomia, Cataan, and a lot of Kathleens.

2. March 1 – New couch

We got a new couch.  It folds out into a bed.  It’s really fancy. We’re not used to fancy furniture.

3. March-September – Fantasy baseball

My son really wanted to play fantasy baseball so we put together a laid-back league of adults and children and had fun playing all season.  (my team finished third).

4. March 23 – NYBG Orchid Show

Flowers, flowers everywhere, even if it’s chilly outside.

5. March 23 – “Weird Al” concert

I saw “Weird Al” Yankovic in concert for the first time at the Apollo Theatre, of all places.  Also dined with good friends at Sylvia’s Restaurant.

6. Apri1 1-30 – I watched a ton of documentary films for the Blogging A-to-Z Challenge

7. April 15-20 – Great Wolf Lodge and North Carolina

We had a lovely spring break at the Williamsburg water park and then visiting family in North Carolina.

8. April-July – Youth Baseball

Once again my children had an exciting baseball season, my daughter in teeball, and my son at kid-pitch Junior level.  He even participated in the Mayor’s Cup Tournament!

9. June 10 – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon

This fundraising ride is always a highlight.

10. June 17 – Father’s Day

As a whale of a dad, we celebrated the special day on the Stellwagen Bank on a whale watching journey.  We even saw a baby whale, bro!

11. June 28 – July 1 – Wolfe’s Neck Campground

A lovely weekend camping on the Maine coast with the added bonus of a goat hike!

12. July 21 – Janelle Monáe

We saw 2018’s top artist perform live and it was amazing.

13. August 14-18 – SAA Annual Meeting

I attended the Society of American Archivists annual meeting and even presented at the Archive-It Partner Meeting. When not learning about Archives, I got to enjoy some time in Washington, DC, and in the evenings I went to a DC United game and a Nationals game.

14. August 28 – September 1 – Chicago

Our summer vacation to Chicago included museums, parks, art, architecture, a Cubs game, a White Sox game and time spent with some fun cousins.

15. September 4 & November 6 – Primary Election and General Election

This was an important election year and I was pleased that Massachusetts candidates Ayanna Pressley, Rachael Rollins, Nika Elugardo, and Jon Santiago all won challenging primaries and eventually the general elections as well as the passage of Yes on 3 to protect equality for transgender people.  Not every election went as I liked, but significant steps forwards were made.

16. October  – The Red Sox win the World Series

It was another exciting Red Sox season, and we attended several Red Sox games.  Oddly, they lost a number of them including an 8-0 loss to the Mets in September (who I secretly cheered for while my children elbowed). But the Red Sox won when it counted, including the ALCS Game on October 14 that I attended with my son, and eventually the World Series.  We celebrated at the Red Sox Victory Parade on Halloween

17. October 31 – Halloween Trick or Treat

Recently on Halloween, I’ve stayed home to hand out candy, so I had the delight of joining my children – or should I say Bigfoot and a Ghost Chicken – as they collected loot in our neighborhood.

18. November 24 – Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

I took my family on their first visit to these national monuments which included visiting Lady Liberty’s crown and finding the name of my great-grandmother on the Wall of Honor.

19. November 30 – December 2 – Birthday Celebration in New Hampshire

I turned 45 this year, but my kids – also November babies – had bigger parties.  So we celebrated late by staying in a cabin in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.  We enjoyed snow-shoeing and riding the Santaland Express.

20. Following up on last year, I had an ongoing activity that I can’t speak of online, but came to a joyous resolution this year.


2017 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 22nd annual list.

January to March – Photography Course: I began to learn how to put my DSLR camera to use.

January 21st – Boston Women’s March: We live in frightening times, but it was inspiring to join 125,000 other people on the Boston Common who believe in making our country a better place.

February 20-25 – Florida: Vacationed in the Sunshine State with stops at Walt Disney World, spring training, the beach, and the Everglades

March 24-25 – New England Archivists Spring Meeting: I presented at a conference for the first time.  It was also memorable because I was horribly sick that weekend too.

April 14-16 – Easter in New York: Took the kids to visit their Nana in the City, featuring stops at a chocolate museum, Coney Island, Pelham Bay Park, and the Bronx Zoo.

April – September 24 – Youth Baseball:  My daughter played he first year in teeball and my son’s team had a thrilling season winning their division championship.  Then he played in the Mayor’s Cup. And his team even appeared on NESN Clubhouse.

May 2 – November 7 – Tito Jackson for Mayor: My first time actively participating in a political campaign.  I gathered signatures, stood out with placards, and marched in the Wake Up and the Earth and Pride Parades.  I wish I could’ve done more, but mostly I wish Tito won the election. Still, got to meet an inspiring group of people with a positive vision for Boston’s future.

May 27-29 – Memorial Day in New York: Visited with my mother in New York sans children and we explored the Chihuly exhibits at the New York Botanical Garden, visited Lower Manhattan, and took in the art at the Metropolitan Museum.

June 4 – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon: Riding with my kids in this annual event is always memorable.

June 18 – Father’s Day at Canobie Lake: I was feted with roller coasters and log flume rides.

June 26 – 3rd Grade Freedom Trail Trip: Chaperoned my son’s class tour of the Freedom Trail where the kids themselves presented on each of the sites.

July 15 – Castle Island: A beautiful summer day with friends and breezes off the Boston Harbor.

July 18 – City Splash: I swam in the Charles River and loved it.

July 28-30 – Tully Lake Campground: camping in Massachusetts, featuring a bird watching walk and disc golf.

August 13-19 – Wildwood Camp: My son went away to sleepaway camp for the first time!

August 21 – Solar Eclipse: Joined a crowd in Arnold Arboretum to watch the sun (mostly) disappear.

August 27 – SoWa Tour BBF Guide of the Month: Researched, wrote, and lead a tour of this evolving South End neighborhood.

September 1-5 – Mount Desert Island: A magical weekend at Acadia National Park and environs.

November 22-26 – Thanksgiving: Another weekend in New York, featuring the Thanksgiving Day Parade a visit to Wave Hill, and a concert by the New York Philharmonic.

Five Questions with Besty Rosenblatt Rosso:  Did you know that I appeared on a podcast.

Just a note here to remind myself of a 20th and final memorable event that wouldn’t be prudent to publish publicly.


2016 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 21st annual list.

Feb 9 – Shrove Tuesday – I helped cook pancakes and lots of bacon (quite the achievement for a vegetarian) and then listened to the confession of some very funny sins

Feb 22 – Harris Hill Ski Jump Competition

All Year – Activism to support public education in Boston and Massachusetts including protesting the State of the City address, a Walk-in and Rally for Boston Public Schools, the BPS Student Walkout, and the successful effort to defeat the ballot initiative to allow unlimited charter school expansion.

March – My mother moves to the Bronx, meaning that we get to see my mother more often and visit New York frequently.  In fact, I made 7 trips to New York City this year and spent a total of 3 weeks visiting!  Highlights include multiple visits to the Bronx Zoo, the Harlem Meer in Central Park, the Hall of Fame for Great Americans,  the Empire State Building, a Circle Line Cruise, the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden.

April 16-18 – Patriots Day Weekend in Boston

April – participating in the A to Z Challenge

April to June – my son’s baseball season. It was a close-knit team and I got to help out keeping score.  The highlight was when the team rallied to score 18 runs in the last inning when they were down by 14 (they lost the game anyway, but they were so proud)

June 19 – The Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon

July 2 – riding the Codzilla on Boston Harbor and then watching hip hop dancers and fireworks at Christopher Columbus Park

August 6 – Susan’s Birthday at McCoy Stadium

Aug 17 – Taking a sunset cruise on the MBTA ferry with my son while my wife and daughter were on a pirate ship

Sep 12 – My daughter starts kindergarten at our local public school, meaning that both kids are finally at the same school, with the same schedule, and same drop-off & pick-up!

Oct 10 – A visit to Old Sturbridge Village

May to October – another great Boston By Foot season, leading 31 walking tours.  The highlight was a tour to two women from Toronto who told me that their first stop in Boston was the Warren Anatomical Museum

Oct 29 – A Halloween Prowl at Moose Hill Sanctuary

Oct 30 – got to have fun on four separate visits to amusement parks, including one day at Rye Playland, and three times to Canobie Lake Park.  The last time was during Screeemfest when I took my son and two of his besties to celebrate his birthday.  We had to run from monsters, but the boys also went on the Corkscrew for the first (second, third, and fourth) times.

Nov 1 – chaperone for a 3rd grade trip to Plimoth Plantation with three great kids who asked lots of interesting questions

Nov 8 – the election, memorable if not for good reasons, although I prefer to remember when progressive ideals got widespread support and exposure during the Bernie Sanders campaign, which also gives me some hope for the future

Nov 24 – Thanksgiving Day Parade