Grandma Blansett used to have a red-and-white Coleman water jug on the top shelf of her kitchen cabinet.
This was a nice jug, probably a twogallon model with a wide lid that screwed into the top and a spigot at the bottom.
Someone had given it to her, probably thinking she would use it when she and Grandpa took one of their day trips for fishing.
Such was not the case. As far as I know, she never used it. And for what she considered a good reason: She didn’t want to wear it out. You see, Grandma was a product of her time.
She was in her 40s when the Great Depression came, dragging a decade of hard times behind it. The Depression hit the Blansetts hard, but Grandma the hardest of all.
She and Grandpa had six boys, five of whom were still at home when the Depression hit.
They were sharecroppers, she and Grandpa, and they held on for a few years but their lives bottomed out in 1935, when Grandpa went broke and they lost all they had.
Their youngest son - my uncle - died of pneumonia two years later at the age of six. And there were times when all they had to eat were blackeyed peas.
The Depression finally lifted, but Grandma wore it like a shawl on her shoulders the rest of her life. Her life in the 40s shaped her response to event and situations the rest of her life.
So, when someone gave her a new water jug, she appreciated it and put it up where it would be safe - and pristine - when she needed it.
Now, as I think about 2020, I wonder what kinds of marks it will leave on people.
We have a quarter-million dead from the pandemic. Masks have become a political statement. And there are all the issues around the Presidential election.
For people whose lives were or will be forever changed because of the virus, for those whose businesses closed, for those who previously took comfort in the stability of the American political process, what will be the lingering effects of 2020?
Will they be fearful? Cynical? Eternal paranoid that the government will try to make them do things they don’t want to?
It will be interesting to see.