Carroll County Times Opinion

Blubaugh: Resolutions for 2021 give way to a simple longing to return to the ways of 2019 | COMMENTARY

This being the end of the year — a long, difficult year most of us are happy to put into our rear-view mirrors — resolutions will no doubt be made. That’s what we do.

I’m guessing, however, what we’ll be looking for in the New Year will be short on the traditional decrees. Start exercising? Learn a new hobby? Read more? Trust me, if you haven’t done any of that in the past nine-plus months amid the pandemic, while largely stuck at home, you never will.


What most of us long for is not something new for 2021, but rather resuming the way things were in 2019, getting back to so much of what we once took for granted. Like ...

Facial recognition. Is there anything more frustrating, or embarrassing, than staring down some masked stranger, certain it’s someone you know based on the eyes, only to realize, nope, never met ‘em? Or not recognizing someone you know well? Along those lines, we’ve all learned just how critical seeing one’s mouth is to gauging reaction. Is that a smile? A frown? Confusion? Full faces.


Human touch. Back at the beginning of all of this, I wrote a lighthearted column about how happy I was that the coronavirus would be the end of handshakes and hugs. Right and wrong. They are gone, maybe forever, but I can’t believe how much I miss them. It’s not just the incredible awkwardness that accompanies greeting or saying goodbye to someone during a pandemic — goofy wave anyone? — it’s that humans need physical contact.

Going out to eat. Many of us have done plenty of carry-out to support local businesses. We dined outdoors as recently as two weeks ago. But eating out of containers in your own home, or knocking icicles off your beverage, are poor substitutes for one of the most enjoyable and social, not to mention tasty, things we do.

Going to the movies. Along those lines, there is little more communal than the experience of seeing a good movie in a darkened theater, on the big screen, with a top-notch sound system, laughing, recoiling and reacting with dozens of others. Netflix on a 65-inch TV is nice, but it doesn’t transport you back in time or to a different place in the same way.

Shame-free shopping. Every cough, every sneeze, every blown nose now produces head turns, furrowed brows and accusatory glances. And woe be to the poor sap whose mask falls beneath his nose or the person who gets a little too close in line, only to receive an earful from some COVID-gilante.

Unadorned floors. Speaking of shopping, won’t it be nice to resume perusing the aisles without looking down and seeing linoleum emblazoned with one-way signs that make customers feel like they’re driving some confusing city grid or depictions of feet giving standing instructions that makes it look like a ballroom dancing class.

Getting dressed. Remember dress codes? “Why are you so dressed up?” is the standard question on those rare occasions when I walk downstairs in the morning in even business casual attire now that standard workday dress has become sweatpants, a sweatshirt and a ballcap. The biggest fashion choice I make most days is socks or no socks.

Experiences. We all miss going out and seeing things happen live, like concerts or sporting events or annual occurrences like fireworks or the Maryland Wine Festival. And traveling. I went through 20-some states a few summers ago on a single trip. This year I got to southern Pennsylvania and Delaware. Woohoo.

Get-togethers. Zoom may have been the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic but it’s a sorry stand-in for sitting around, talking and just generally hanging out with friends and family. We’d had a standing, monthly poker game with two other families for years, always featuring great food and laughs along with some suspect card playing. I’ll feel like we’ve returned to some sesnse of normalcy only when we’re back at the table, joking, discussing the state of the world and reminding one of the participants, for the 100th, wonderful time, that a flush beats a straight.


There is one thing about 2020 I hope doesn’t change. I heard former President Obama on a podcast talking about the way being stuck at home with fewer options made his kids more interested in spending time with dad and I couldn’t agree more. As a father of two teens who has treasured the increased frequency of playing games, cooking and eating, working on projects, watching TV together and, most of all, conversing, I resolve to keep all of that going into 2021.

Bob Blubaugh is the editor of the Carroll County Times. His column appears Sundays. Email him at