Home Columns Jen’s Friday Night Insights: A Year in Review

Jen’s Friday Night Insights: A Year in Review

by Jen Polvogt

2020. What a year, am I right?

This year has affected all of us differently, but also the same. It goes without saying that none of us saw a global pandemic in our future, yet here we are. The world went into lockdown, and our lives were changed forever.

Our 2020 started out like any other. We rang in the new year with light in our eyes and hope in our souls. Starting a new year is an opportunity to start over and make anew. The first few weeks of 2020 were fine! Our son was 2 years old at the time and was back in school, our real estate business was steady, and we were looking forward to an upcoming trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

It seemed like any other year. Until it wasn’t.

Before we had our son, our cats were our furbabies. Long story short, we had four of them – I had two when my husband and I met, and he had one. His one got pregnant, had a litter of seven and we lived with 10 cats in our two-bedroom apartment until the kittens were old enough to adopt out. The runt of the litter was impossible to adopt out because he was so skittish, so he stayed with us. That’s the short story.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, fast forward 14 years, and you guessed it. As animals do, they get old and get “sent to the farm.” Furious (his name did not match his personality – he was the friendliest cat in the world) passed away on our living room floor on the same day Kobe Bryant passed away. Three days later, we had to take Abbey to the vet, and the prognosis was kidney failure. We made the impossible decision to put her down.

We came home to our other two cats who were visibly depressed and unusually reclusive. We thought we were going to lose Beckett that same week and assumed Pike would quickly follow. Thankfully, we were able to get Beckett to the vet, and his life was saved. Pike had an abscess on his jaw. Once it was drained, he was back to normal, too.

January was obviously a terrible start to the year, but we had a trip to Puerto Vallarta planned for the end of February. With my Aunt’s funeral over and the cats healed, we were able to look ahead to sandy beaches and margaritas. If you’ve been following my writing journey this year, you know the end of the story. If not, it basically ended with my then 2-year-old throwing up all over himself, me and the airport. But, the trip was unforgettable and changed our lives.

March came in like a wrecking ball, and the entire world shut down. I actually enjoyed our quarantine time, however. We were able to reset and let all of our obligations rest for a bit. We played games, stayed in our pajamas all day, baked too many loaves of banana bread, binged every show we could find and enjoyed our family time. Yes, it was scary and uncertain, but we’re almost on the other side of this terrible pandemic.

April was weird without church on Easter, but I still got to enjoy my beloved eggs Benedict. May brought my nephew’s 13th birthday and a trail of cars driving by his house to wish him a “happy birthday.” That was quickly followed by my brother’s bicycle accident the very next day. We still have no idea what happened. He had a traumatic brain injury from the accident, resulting in temporary amnesia, and he doesn’t remember any of the events leading up to him skidding along the sidewalk and out onto a very busy street on his face. Thankfully, he recovered, got the staples removed and the cast came off.

June saw the Black Lives Matter movement that changed society forever. It opened our eyes to the injustices inflicted on the lives of so many. It was a blip on the radar, but it should have been a bomb. Things need to change, and I hope we see those changes play out.

July was my dad’s 75th birthday and a time for celebration. My sister flew out from Napa, California, and we took family pictures for the first time in 20 years. My husband and I had just embarked on a new adventure, changed our eating habits and started exercising. We were down five pounds by the time we took our pictures, which was not enough! We’ve now lost 35 pounds and counting. I can’t wait to retake those family pictures again this summer.

August was fairly quiet, and we were looking forward to our son starting school in September. My husband was able to enjoy an unforgettable fishing vacation in Alaska with my dad, two brothers and brother-in-law. Each man brought home 50 pounds of fish, which we have barely made a dent in. 

We enjoyed the remaining month of the summer by playing outside, going for walks, playing at the playground and connecting with family and friends through Zoom. Our son turned 3 years old in September, and we had a small family birthday party, wearing our masks and social distancing. A few weeks later, he started school and was able to finally be around kids of his own age again. He immediately had a renewed sense of joy and adventure.

One of my brothers moved to Washington in October, preceded by an epic garage sale in our driveway. He basically had a fire sale to get rid of his archery equipment. He shut down his martial archery school, moved everything into a storage unit and now needed to get rid of everything. We pulled it off in three very long days. My brother’s belongings sold for around $2,000, and Nate and I walked away with a meager $200. Not worth the effort of putting the whole thing together, in my opinion. 

School was shut down in November, and our son was stuck with us again. Play-Doh projects picked up again, along with baking too much banana bread. Living in Colorado, we couldn’t enjoy the outdoors like we did during the summer. But we remained hopeful that school would re-open in December and looked forward to Thanksgiving.

As with everything else that happened in 2020, Thanksgiving set a different scene, and we all saw smaller Thanksgiving feasts, with fewer family members. My parents came over to our house, and it was just the five of us. My brother and his girlfriend joined us for pumpkin pie, and we “Zoomed” with my other brother in Washington and my sister and her husband in California. Making lemonade out of lemons was getting easier.

With the Christmas season looming, it was exciting to enter December. My sister and brother-in-law made the 909-mile flight to join in the Christmas spirit, and it was awesome. Experiencing Christmas through my son’s eyes was unforgettable. We set up our tree in early December, decorated the outside of our house with lights, shopped for presents online, baked cookies, watched Christmas movies and ate too much food. I wouldn’t have changed a thing, minus not being able to see my Washington brother. But, we Zoomed with him, so at least there’s that.

Across all of the months from July through the present, we embarked on a journey we always dreamed of but never knew was possible. Nate “met” Seth over the phone and joined the In-Between Media team. Nate started writing columns, recording podcasts and joining live streams to talk about football. It was a dream! And I was fortunate enough to join in on the fun. I have met incredible people through the fantasy football Twitter community and have been fortunate enough to share my life with those people.

Our year ended the same way it always does. Barely able to make it up until midnight, Nate and I had one glass of bubbly (recipe below), kissed each other as the ball dropped and said goodbye to this crazy year. 

Today, we enter a new year and have new opportunities to support one another, make changes for the better and make lemonade out of lemons. It has been an honor to share my experiences with everyone and to have you share your lives with me. For that, I will forever be grateful.

Jen’s Week 17 Friday Night Insights

And speaking of being grateful, I’m grateful the fantasy football season is over. I won one championship and came in third in my home league. I barely came out of the season unscathed, and I learned a lot. I joined three dynasty leagues and can’t wait for next year’s draft. Here are a few guys I have my eye on for next year:

Parris Campbell (WR, Indianapolis Colts)

Parris Campbell saw his season come to a close with a knee injury that required surgery in October. He stands to compete in the endzone with Michael Pittman and be a lead receiver in their offense next year. His 2020 season wasn’t lit up by fireworks, and he had only 71 yards over six receptions in the season opener. 

Quarterback Philip Rivers likely won’t be with the Colts next year, which paves the way for someone else to step in and find open receivers. Campbell is quick, and the Colts like to use him in gimmick run plays. He’s a multi-use player who can spread the field and be a weapon in a potentially explosive offense next year.

AJ Dillon (RB, Green Bay Packers)

AJ Dillon looks bright for next season. His companion running back Aaron Jones doesn’t fit the Green Bay offense and likely will be sporting colors other than green and yellow next year.

In Week 16 we finally got to see what Dillon is capable of. He had 21 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns.  He was on the field for 58 percent of the snaps for Green Bay and had an explosive game. And those thighs! They’re as thick as tree trunks! I expect Dillon will step in as Green Bay’s lead back next year and will blow us away. 

I always end my columns with a game day drink, and this week is no different. 

I’m here to join the conversation, drink in hand and watch this crazy COVID-19 year unfold. Cheers to a new year! 

Game Day Drink Recipe for the Week:

Classic French 75

  • 1 oz Beefeater gin
  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz bubbly (sparkling wine)
  • Combine gin, lemon juice and syrup to a shaker with ice 
  • Shake for about 30 seconds, then pour into a champagne flute
  • Slowly add your bubbles to the flute
  • Garnish with a lemon twist

Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter for more motherly and fantasy sports advice @JenPolvogt.

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