Sandwich First Night December 31, 2019

Last year’s First Night fireworks over Shawme Pond in Sandwich Village

As the fireworks lit up the sky over Shawme Pond with red, blue, white and green starbursts last New Year’s Eve, no one could have guessed what a year of turmoil lay ahead.

A year that brought the coronavirus to our lives and terms such as “social distancing,” “remote learning,” “community spread” and “the new normal” to our everyday vocabularies. A year that turned our kitchens into home offices and our bedrooms into classrooms. A year that taught us how to Zoom.

2020 was a tough one.

In March, when the virus first made its appearance here on Cape Cod, Sandwich recorded the first two cases: a man and his wife.

There were a lot of information gaps about the virus back then, lots of questions without answers. People were terrified. So terrified that they refused to leave their homes, even to see a doctor if they were having chest pain.

We worried over every cough, every sore throat. We asked ourselves if it was safe to bring the mail in the house or get the newspaper delivered. Were there COVID particles on the groceries we bought?

We fretted as people we knew got sick. Some of us lost loved ones to the virus. Others among us called COVID-19 a big hoax.

Those first few months were a dismal, uncertain time.

But we learned.

We washed out hands and stayed socially distant. There were fewer hugs. Fewer kisses. Handshakes turned into fist-bumps or elbow-taps. We avoided unnecessary social contact, even crossing the street when approaching someone else while out for a walk.

We wore facemasks while out in public. But the facemasks made it hard to breathe and fogged up our glasses. They made it difficult to hear what the other person was saying and impossible to see their facial expressions, most importantly their smiles. But we adapted.

The spring and summer brought some semblance of normalcy. The warmer weather allowed us to get outdoors and even to the beach. Maybe even eat outdoors at a restaurant.

But there were fewer celebrations. No Easter. No Memorial Day cookouts. No Fourth of July parades. But the encouraging news was that the number of people getting sick from the virus began to diminish. There was good news, too, on the vaccine front.

And then summer was gone. And then fall, too.

Before we knew it, the days were shorter, the night longer, and the numbers of people getting sick began to climb to record highs. Officials said much of this resurgence was due to people not heeding their warnings to remain vigilant and socially distant.

Traditionally, with the last editorial of the year, we look ahead at what is to come. This time, we decided not to do that. We decided to use this editorial to remind our readers of the nearly year-long road we traveled together. It was for sure a bumpy one. It wasn’t fun, but when we were being careful, things were getting better.

Our wish for the new year is renewed patience for everyone. We have so many more facts now than when this all started. The vaccine is here. But things will take time. Sure, we’re tired. We miss the “old normal.” But there are better times ahead. We know it. We just need to take care and be patient.

Here’s to a Happy New Year, Sandwich. You deserve it.

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