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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 12/11/20


Good morning,


We have a penchant for superlatives—the best books of the year, the best movies of the year, the person of the year. We also have a penchant for lists. I love lists (as you no doubt have figured out by now…). As we head into the weekend, I’m going to steer clear of politics and instead highlight some interesting superlatives, lists and random observations as this year grinds on—to its merciful end…!


THE OXFORD WORD OF THE YEAR


Each year the Oxford English Dictionary chooses a word of the year. Typically, a single neologism is cited that is representative of the era and the zeitgeist. The 2018 word was “toxic” and the 2019 word was “climate emergency.” Both survive as relevant today, given the toxic political culture and the myriad climate emergencies the world has had to endure this year.


Given the nature of this year of anxiety, tragedy, and calamity, the OED couldn’t settle upon a single word. So they settled on a group of “words of an unprecedented year.” Here are some of them:


Bushfire

Lockdown

Social distancing

Reopening

Black Lives Matter

BIPOC

Mail-in

Moonshot

Net Zero

Superspreader

Shelter-in-place


This year, as frightening and exhausting as it has been, cannot be encapsulated with a single word. That is a fitting postscript to a complex and challenging year.


SIX WORDS OF GRATITUDE


The New York Times recently asked its readers to share what they were thankful for in 2020. The sentiment had to be expressed in six words. This is based upon the “six word memoir” popularized by Larry Smith. Here are some of my favorites:


The crinkling eye about the mask

The backyard haircuts are getting better

Family reunion in January, before Covid

Miss family, but safer for them

Saved a lot of lipstick money

No shame in elastic-waist pants

Braless at home? No one cares

No better excuse to avoid in-laws

Sunny mornings, a window facing east

Toscanini’s recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Throwing the football with my sons

I am thankful to be thankful

Never been social; now I’m good

I am bored, but not dead.


STRANGE SIGN

On a recent walk, I walked past a store that said it sold “Home Philosophy.” It turned out to be an interior design store. I thought it perhaps describes best what I’m coming up with writing these Musings—my home philosophy to yours...


HANUKKAH OBSERVATION

I don’t quite understand why, with all the beautiful festive Christmas lights, the Jews chose a simple pale-blue and white motif for Hanukkah. Christmas offers a panoply of bright colors and cheer that I look forward to each year. Sure, Hanukkah isn’t the biggest of Jewish holidays—certainly when compared to the High Holy Days and the three Festivals (Sukkot, Shavuot, Passover). Indeed, Hanukkah is a bit player on the Jewish calendar. But it has become more popular and is now observed with greater verve as a Jewish alternative to (and sharing in) the Christmas spirit. So here’s the question: With all the Jewish ad executives, public relations consultants and interior and clothes designers, pale blue and white is the best they could come up with?


FINALLY, A BIT OF WISDOM AS WINTER IS NEARLY UPON US


The great baseball hall-of-famer Rogers Hornsby had words that ring true now not just in the context of baseball, but for our current time of “shelter-in-place”:


“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

I’m looking out the window a lot…waiting for spring, a vaccine, and baseball!

Have a great weekend,


Glenn

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